The federal government will shut down a week from today if Donald Trump carries out his often-made threat to veto the continuing resolution that will prevent Washington from turning into a pumpkin on September 30th at midnight.
So…at least as far as this shutdown is concerned…we’re finally going to find out whether Trump is all talk and no action since he swore this past March never to sign another funding bill without money for the wall he wants built between the United States and Mexico.
To be fair, Trump has also often made threats over the past six months not to cause a government shutdown. As I’ve been posting (most recently here), where Trump stands on shutting down the government on any day has been anything but consistent. When it comes to a shutdown, what he has said and when he has said it has had no relation to what he has said the day before.
It’s very possible that Trump has been doing nothing more than pounding his chest the past few months.
But with the new fiscal year set to start next Monday and only 3 of the 12 appropriations enacted, it’s finally put-up-or-shut-up time for Trump.
At this point there are few facts and lots of speculating about this situation.
1. Congress combined two – for the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services — of the remaining 2019 appropriations into a single bill. That combined appropriation has already passed the Senate and presumably will be adopted this week by the House week.
2. The GOP congressional leadership added a continuing resolution for the seven appropriations that will not be adopted by September 30th to this DOD-HHS “minibus.” That CR will keep all the agencies and departments in those seven bills funded until December 7th.
3. The DOD-HHS-CR includes no new funds for Trump’s wall.
4. Trump’s most recent statement on the shutdown came when he tweeted late last week that the DOD-HHS-CR bill that doesn’t provide the $5 billion he wants for his wall is “ridiculous.”
I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
So, with less than a week to go, there’s a clear need for a CR but no way to know what Trump will do.
As Amber Phllips (@byamberphillips) reported last week in The Washington Post, the speculation about what Trump will do is rampant.
1. On the one hand, congressional Republicans don’t want a shutdown before the election and Trump supposedly has agreed to wait until the December 7th deadline to push the wall issue.
2. On the other hand, in a very Trumpian fashion, the president has indicated several times since meeting with Ryan and McConnell that he might not be willing to wait until December to get the funding he wants.
3. As much as he needs to work with the GOP leadership, Trump seems to be taking his cues on this issue as much from Sean Hannity and other conservative commentators as he is from Ryan and McConnell.
4. It’s possible that Trump realizes both that Ryan and McConnell have been playing him for close to two years about funding for his wall and that getting what he wants after the election will be more difficult than it will be now.
5. It’s also possible…and perhaps even likely…that Trump will see a fight over funding for his wall as the best way to reinvigorate the immigration issue in a big way before the election.
6. And it’s definitely possible that Trump will see a shutdown next week as a great way to divert attention away from Mueller, Manafort, Cohen, Bob Woodard’s book and the Kavanaugh nomination, especially if the Kavanaugh nomination doesn’t go well.
But it’s also very possible that Trump has been doing nothing more than pounding his chest the past few months and in the end will prove he’s a blowhard by doing nothing more than signing the CR and claiming a great victory.
We’ll know the truth in just days.
Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy.