I added a government shutdown countdown clock to the homepage of thebudgetguy.blog this week because the threat of a government shutdown this October 1 is real, growing and needs to be taken very seriously.
I know…there’s a countdown clock for everything these days. News and sports networks are using them so often for routine events that they’ve become a cliché and those that use them have become the butt of jokes.
But in this case it’s fully justified. The deadline for Congress and President Donald Trump to come to an agreement that will avoid a government shutdown this fall — which may be a much more frequent threat and occurrence these days than it used to be but would still be anything but routine – is approaching quickly and neither the White House, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have done anything to make it less likely.
…the chances of a shutdown happening this year are greater now than they were even a few week ago.
Because of that, because the time left to prevent it from happening is steadily dwindling and because the other must-do tasks Congress has left are still multiplying, the chances of a shutdown happening this year are greater now than they were even a few week ago.
For these reasons I’m raising my previous estimate of a government shutdown occurring this fall from 50 to 60 percent.
There are five reasons a shutdown is now more likely.
1. The shutdown countdown clock shows that, as of today, there are only 69 days left before the federal government turns into a pumpkin on October 1. But the countdown clock shows calendar days, which includes weekends. When you subtract those, congressional recesses, religious and national holidays and days when Congress is in session but no votes are scheduled, the number of legislative days when the House and Senate are both working is probably less than half that number.
2. There’s been no movement at all over the $25 billion Trump wants to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The president has already threatened multiple times to veto a continuing resolution — the funding bill needed to keep the government from shutting — if it doesn’t include these funds and the votes don’t currently seem to exist in either the House or Senate to provide them.
3. Vetoing the CR and shutting the government over funding for the wall will be Trump’s best way to enrage his base further on the immigration issue before the election. Ryan and McConnell may also see a wall/immigration-motivated shutdown as the best way to increase Republican voter turnout and protect GOP incumbents.
4. The House and Senate are now both planning to spend much of September debating things other than legislation that would keep the government from shutting. As I posted several days ago, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) has let it be known that the House will debate three tax cut bills even though they have no chance of being enacted. Meanwhile, the Senate is very likely to be tied up for days that month trying to confirm Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
5. Unless he starts a war, a government shutdown may be Trump’s best/only opportunity this fall to divert media attention away from (1) the Mueller investigation, (2) the Michael Cohen trial, (3) Paul Manafort, (4) Stormy Daniels, (5) Karen McDougal, (6) Vladimir Putin and who knows what else.
I’ll be updating this analysis weekly.
Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here: