Ruh-roh! We may be back on government shutdown watch


Last week Congress passed a ‘minibus’ with a CR to avert Trump’s threatened government shutdown over his border wall.

The Senate on Tuesday passed the short-term spending bill that would keep the government running through Dec. 7 and avert a government shutdown, and put off a fight over funding for President Trump’s border wall until after the midterm elections. Senate passes defense and health spending bill, tries to delay border-wall fight to after midterms:

The 93-to-7 vote came less than two weeks ahead of a Sept. 30 deadline when government funding will expire unless Congress and Trump intervene.

The House is expected to take up [modifications to] the bill next week, but it remains uncertain whether Trump would sign the measure.

The legislation would not increase funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which funds construction of the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president has toyed repeatedly with shutting down the government to try to get more funding for the border wall, at times saying there would not be a shutdown and other times saying he would welcome one.

This morning President Trump is making noise again about not supporting the spending bill because it does not include funding for his “big beautiful wall” on the Mexico border. Which begs the questions, “He just now realized this?” And “Will he veto it?” Trump blasts Congress over ‘ridiculous’ spending bill: ‘Where is the money for the wall?’

President Trump lashed out at Congress on Thursday over the lack of funding for his border wall in a recently passed spending bill, stoking a fight that GOP lawmakers had hoped to avoid until later this year.

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Let’s be clear: this is a GOP leadership spending bill that denies the president the funding he wants for his “big beautiful wall” on the Mexico border. Democrats are just along for the ride, and there is broad bipartisan support for this spending bill.

This constantly blaming Democrats for his own incompetence in getting rolled by his own GOP leadership is getting tiresome. The “great negotiator” never was, and this lie has been revealed since he has been president.

The House is expected to take up the funding legislation next week, ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline to keep the government funded.

The Senate bill includes a continuing resolution (CR) that extends funding for all other agencies through Dec. 7, after the midterm elections.

The inclusion of the resolution in the Department of Homeland Security bill was intended to put off a contentious debate on Trump’s proposed border wall.

The president has repeatedly chastised lawmakers for failing to pass stricter immigration laws, and requested full funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Earlier this year, Trump said he’d be willing to shut down the government if he did not receive enough money for the wall, but has since backed off that threat.

In an exclusive interview with Hill.TV on Tuesday, Trump hinted that he intends take additional executive action on immigration in the coming weeks, though he declined to specify what it might be. Naturally.

Paul Waldman of the Washington Post points out that if President Trump goes along with getting rolled on his border wall by his own GOP leadership in this spending bill, Trump is breaking his central 2016 campaign promise. Will voters remember?

How is Trump going to explain to his supporters in 2020 how he failed to fulfill the central promise of his 2016 campaign?

The border wall was the central promise, make no mistake. It was the thing that most distinguished him from his primary opponents, and it carried enormous symbolic weight for what he called “the forgotten men and women” as they flocked to the polls that November. It wasn’t just about stopping illegal immigration, either. It was about stopping cultural change, as well as healing the sense of diminishment so many people felt. Perhaps most important, it was about seizing back a sense of agency and power. When Trump told them that not only would we build a wall, but that we would force Mexico to pay for it, they cheered.

The United States, Trump said, was constantly being laughed at, ridiculed and taken advantage of by the rest of the world. Well, now, we would make Mexico kneel before us and suffer the humiliation of opening its wallet to pay for a wall it would hate. If life has made you feel small and weak, here was a chance for us all to feel big and strong.

It is now two years later, and it turns out that not only is Mexico never going to pay for a wall, even Republicans in Congress don’t want it. It’s not that they dislike the idea, they just think it is more political trouble than it is worth, especially given that polls show nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose it. So they keep putting it off, telling Trump that they’ll eventually get around to it — just not right now.

And Trump himself doesn’t seem to want to force the issue either. He has threatened many times to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding for his wall but, every time, he backs down. And what happens if Democrats take control of the House after November’s midterms, as just about everyone assumes they will? Future budgets will have to be bipartisan, which means no wall.

So what will Trump do?

[One] would presumably include forcing a shutdown, which is, of course, not going to happen.

Not so fast (see below).

If he can’t fool anyone into believing the wall actually exists, the other option is to blame Democrats for its absence and keep saying we have to build it, which is what he’s likely to do.

Trump checked that box with his tweet this morning.

But there is still no “big beautiful wall” that he promised his nativist anti-immigrant supporters, and he has failed to deliver on the central promise of his campaign even while controlling majorities in Congress.

Given how mentally unstable and emotionally volatile Trump is, we probably should not rule out a government shutdown, even though it would harm GOP candidates running for office. Because Donald Trump is all about Donald Trump and nothing else in the world is as important to him.

Trump really does want this confrontation with Congress, but his handlers in the White House keep talking him down off the ledge to protect Republican candidates.

So with only 10 days to go, where do things stand? Republicans are whistling past the graveyard. As Trump Waffles, House Republicans Confident They’ll Avert Shutdown:

House Republicans prepared a legislative strategy with President Donald Trump seemingly on board, only for the president to catch them off guard with a last-minute tweet suggesting his opposition to the plan.

This scenario has played out a few times this year as lawmakers debated immigration and appropriations bills. And it could realistically happen again next week as Congress plans to pass legislation to avert a government shutdown that Trump has already signaled he might force.

Nonetheless, most House Republicans are confident the government will be funded by the Sept. 30 deadline. Speaker Paul D. Ryan has said on multiple occasions that there won’t be a shutdown, a sentiment echoed by GOP appropriators and many rank-and-file members.

Ryan met with Trump in late July and again earlier this month to talk about Congress’ appropriations strategy. The speaker contends that Trump is on board with GOP leaders’ plan, which involves punting a fight over border wall funding to December.

What, a lame-duck Congress “let’s get even with the American people who just voted us out of office” strategy? Not going to happen. Congress will pass another short-term CR to keep the government open after December 7, and punt to the next Congress.

The speaker’s confidence comes amid weeks of mixed messaging from Trump. The president has said in tweets and at campaign rallies that he’s willing to shut down the government to secure funding for the border wall. At times he’s said he could wait until after the midterm elections. He’s also said he’d prefer to have that fight now.

Trump’s waffling over the matter is similar to what he did in June as House Republicans debated dueling comprehensive immigration bills dealing with border security and the wall as well as protections for young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

* * *

Many Republicans attributed the embarrassing failure of the compromise bill to Trump’s wavering support.

During the fiscal 2018 government funding debate, Congress broke through a monthslong impasse to finally pass an omnibus appropriations bill on the eve of a March 23 deadline. Trump surprised lawmakers with a last-minute threat to veto the measure, creating a brief period of suspense before he reluctantly signed the bill later that day.

That history suggests Trump could easily throw another wrench in House Republicans’ plans. But like Ryan, most members interviewed for this story last week were certain there won’t be a government shutdown this month.

“It would be suicide to have a shutdown; it’d just be dumb,” Texas Rep. Bill Flores said.

“There won’t be a shutdown,” said Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson, a GOP appropriator. When pressed on where his confidence was coming from given Trump’s rhetoric to the contrary, he said “the fact that we won’t have a shutdown” and declined to elaborate further.

A fellow appropriator, Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole, said he thinks the shutdown threat is an empty one and that Trump will sign the spending bills Congress sends him because a lot of it reflects his priorities and his values.

Asked why Trump would tweet that he’s willing to shut down the government over immigration, Cole said, “You’ll have to ask him that. I’m not here to psychoanalyze the president.”

* * *

[Trump’s tweets come] after Trump’s conservative allies in Congress, like GOP House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, had suggested that GOP leaders are throwing away all leverage on appropriations by pairing the Defense spending bill with one for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. That two-bill package contains a continuing resolution extending funding for some agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security measure that covers border security funding, through Dec. 7. The Senate passed the package Tuesday, 93-7.

“I’m not sure how we could have less leverage than doing that particular strategy,” Meadows told reporters Thursday.

The North Carolina Republican suggested the decision removes any chance that Trump will secure any new money for the border wall in fiscal 2019.

“At this point I don’t anticipate any border wall funding. … It will be a CR. And I think it will be a CR in perpetuity, which would suggest there’s no border wall funding, whether it’s now or later,” Meadows said.

* * *

A few conservatives who disagree with leadership’s strategy acknowledged last week that Trump could provoke a shutdown.

“Truthfully, I think he’s back and forth on it,” Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said. “I think he’s trying to fulfill what he said he wanted to do.”

The North Carolina Republican said he doesn’t fault Trump for having the mindset of being willing to do whatever it takes but personally doesn’t think a shutdown would advance anything. Unlike some of his confident colleagues, Walker would not predict there won’t be one.

“I can’t say that it won’t happen,” he said. “I don’t anticipate it, but I would not take it off the table.”

As Freedom Caucus and RSC member Warren Davidson put it, “The president gets a say. It can’t be law without the president’s signature. He campaigned on his priorities, and realistically, we should be fighting for them.”

* * *

Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo isn’t worried about a shutdown, regardless of what position Trump takes.

“I have no idea what he’s doing. I know what we’re doing,” he said. “There’s more than two-thirds I think, who don’t want shutdown. … If two-thirds of both chambers vote to keep the government open, then it’s kind of irrelevant.”

C’mon Donny. Veto this GOP leadership spending bill and force Republicans to vote to override your veto. Show everyone just how weak and feckless the “great negotiator” really is. This is a lose-lose for you. You are never getting funding for your “big beautiful wall.” SO SAD!

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.