Tag: wall

Government Shutdown Fight This September Will Be All About Trump


From everything we know about Donald Trump, he wouldn’t want this to happen any other way: A threatened or actual government shutdown at the end of this month is going to be all about him.

There’s not much time left for Congress to do everything that has to be done to prevent the government from turning into a pumpkin on September 30th at midnight. There are only 28 days left before the new fiscal year begins on October 1, but the House and Senate are only scheduled to be in session for 11 of those days.

And it’s not just that Congress has a great deal left to do, it’s that it hasn’t yet adopted any of the 12 appropriations for the coming year. Although the work on a few of these bills supposedly is nearing completion, in this highly partisan, highly emotional and high-political stakes environment where there are significant differences not just between Republicans and Democrats but also between House and Senate Republicans, being close to enacting any these bills may more wishful thinking than solid intelligence.

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In addition, in these take-no-prisoner days just before the election, “compromise” will be thought of as collaborating with the enemy rather than good legislating.

So there’s everything left to do, not much time left to do it and less incentive than might be expected to get it done.

The overwhelming likelihood, therefore, is that by October 1 Congress will need to pass and the president sign a continuing resolution to keep the government from shutting down.

In most prior years a CR would have been routine and noncontroversial. This especially would have been the case in a year like this with the House and Senate incumbents running for reelection wanting to get back to their districts or states, with control of the House and/or Senate in doubt, with the members of the current majority wanting few Washington-oriented controversies to interfere with their campaigns and with a lame duck session ahead where final funding decisions could be made.

But this year Congress is not in control of its destiny on a CR. Trump has given strong signals that he won’t sign a funding bill to keep the government open unless he gets what he wants, when he wants it and at the levels he’s demanding.

So far, Trump seems to want three things, all of which will allow him to demonstrate that he’s the straw that’s stirring the federal goverment’s drink.

1. His highest priority so far is the funding for the wall he wants built between the United States and Mexico. Informal estimates have put the cost as high as $30 billion but Trump has indicated he might accept $5 billion in this bill as a down payment.

2. Trump announced last week that, against the Senate’s wishes, he was freezing the pay for federal civilian employees.

3. His space force has been more ammunition for late-night television comedians than a serious conversation on Capitol Hill, but that may not stop Trump from demanding funds in this bill at least to start the planning process.

So far, Congress doesn’t seem inclined to grant Trump any of his three CR wishes.

It has already refused multiple times to provide funding for the wall. Given the serious reelection harm the pay freeze will do to GOP representatives from districts with a high number of federal employees, the Republican majority in the House is very likely to join the Senate and mandate the cost-of-living increases the president doesn’t want. In addition, there’s little-to-no interest on the Hill to do anything about the space force this year.

The whole question, therefore, is what will Trump do if he’s faced with one or more defeats on these three issues?

Up to now, he’s backed down every time. Trump has either accepted the GOP leadership’s promise to consider what he wants to do next time, has huffed and puffed that he wouldn’t sign a bill but then signed it any way or vehemently complained about the legislative process (especially the filibuster) when it prevented him from getting what he wanted.

Trump could keep easily keep this streak going and back down again. On the other hand, there are a variety of reasons this time could be different. For example:

1. The continuing legal threats are clearly increasing the president’s need to divert attention to situations — like a government shutdown — he can control.

2. Trump’s strategy for dealing with Mueller at least in part seems to be to do things that remind his supporters why they voted for him in the first place. Shutting down the government now would be the ultimate way to do this.

3. Having lost on the wall so often before might finally convince Trump that he’s not willing to be fooled again by the GOP congressional leadership.

4. Trump may think that, if there’s a Democratic majority in the House or Senate next year, this will be his last chance to get these things.

The shutdown situation isn’t likely to be decided until the very end of September for two reasons.

First, Congress will probably send the CR to Trump as close to September 30th as possible to limit his options. Adopting it the week before, for example, would give the president a free pass because he could veto it and demand changes without shutting the government.

Second, unless it’s delayed again, the second Manafort trial is scheduled to begin on September 24th and the White House may want to have a big diversion tactic like a shutdown ready to go just in case it is needed.

But no matter when this shutdown debate happens, and even though it’s supposed to be about funding levels, this shutdown fight is going to be far more about all things Trump than anything having to do with the federal budget.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy.


Current 60% Chance Of A Government Shutdown Very Likely To Increase Further


Today, with exactly (and just) five weeks to go before the start of the next federal fiscal year, nothing has changed to make the odds of a government shutdown less than they were before the House of Representatives began its summer-Labor Day recess.

As a result, I’m sticking with my previous estimate that there’s a 60 percent chance the federal government will shut down this October 1.

That is, I’m sticking with 60 percent for now. If anything, the likelihood of a shutdown is only going to increase from here.

Yes, as Carl Hulse pointed out in the New York Times, the Senate did make some progress on the 2019 appropriations this summer (although I disagree with his assertion that the Senate has “got its groove back”).

But there are still only 11 legislative days left in September and Congress as a whole isn’t close to completing the work it has to do on all the 2019 spending bills to get them signed by the president before the government turns into a pumpkin at midnight September 30.

Besides, Congress getting the 12 individual appropriations to the president isn’t the most important question.

As I’ve been posting here for months and as Sarah Ferris reported in Politico last Friday, no one has any idea whether President Trump will sign any appropriations if Congress doesn’t provide at least $5 billion for the wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico.

And although he no longer needs to pay for his military parade, you can’t help but wonder whether Trump will now also demand at least initial funding for his space force as the price for his signature.

To say the least, up to now Trump has consistently been inconsistent and unreliable when dealing with Congress on budget issues. Congressional Republicans have every reason to be very concerned about whether, if he has the need, Trump will shut down the government.

And given last week’s Cohen/Manafort/Pecker/Weiselberg/Mueller events, Trump seems increasingly likely to have the need to do just that. If, as seems likely, Congress again refuses to appropriate the billions he wants for his wall, Trump will be handed a relatively easy way to show that he’s in charge; to look tough on immigration, the most important issue he has ridden since the day he announced his candidacy; and to reconfirm his dealmaking abilities.

Congressional Republicans have every reason to be very concerned about whether, if he has the need, Trump will shut down the government.

Being able to dictate the terms of a deal on a continuing resolution — the funding bill most likely to be needed to keep the federal government from shutting its doors — should not be underestimated as a major motivation for the president.

Over just the last few weeks, Trump has been unable to control Robert Mueller, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Michael Cohen and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He’s also had to order his secretary of State not to travel to North Korea because the North Koreans were not cooperating, deal with his tariffs not being well-received and confront the fact that his tax cut is less popular than the Affordable Care Act.

In addition, as his extensive use of executive orders and pardons demonstrate, Trump loves situations where he can make a unilateral decision…like being the sole person who may veto the CR.

Trump may also see this as his last chance the fund the wall. While there still might be an opportunity during the coming lame duck session of Congress, trump is likely to have far less leverage with recalcitrant Republicans then given that they will no longer be itching to get back to their districts and states to campaign for relection.

In addition, a Democratic takeover of one or both houses will kill almost all chances of the wall ever being funded before Trump has to run for relection.

All of this is why I think there’s still a 60 percent (but rising) chance we’ll have a government shutdown this fall.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy


When Will Trump Realize He’s Being Played By Ryan And McConnell On The Shutdown And His Wall?


House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supposedly have convinced President Donald Trump that he shouldn’t consider shutting down the federal government over funding for the wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico until the coming lame duck session of Congress, that is, until after the mid-term elections.

This makes a great deal of sense from Ryan’s and McConnell’s perspective given that the continued GOP control of the House and Senate seems to be in increasing jeopardy. One of the last things they want a month before November is a Trump-caused government shutdown that the congressional Republicans running for reelection have to explain and defend.

But there are several reasons it doesn’t make much sense for Trump.

First, Ryan and McConnell have repeatedly promised Trump that they would get him the funding for his wall at some later date…and have never delivered on that promise.

Second, Ryan is a lame duck speaker who will have far less incentive after the election to do anything Trump wants on the wall.

When will Trump realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him?

Third, defeated and retiring members of Congress generally are not as cooperative or politically reliable after the election as they were before and, if the polls are correct, there will lots of defeated Republicans this November joining the already large number of those who are retiring.

Finally, and most important, the legislative battle over keeping the government open before the election rather than after is very likely to be Trump’s last chance to get funding for his wall given the leverage he’ll have over Republicans at that time.

In addition, if the Democrats do gain the majority in one or both houses of Congress (or even just pick up substantial number of seats), they will immediately claim a mandate to be a check on Trump and will be far less willing to compromise.

At the same time, congressional Republicans will look at the election results and not feel as obligated to follow Trump blindly as thy do now.

The question is if…or when…Trump will realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him.

And that they’re playing him like a fiddle.

Trump’s Latest Shutdown Threat Keeps Chances Of It Happening At 60%


I’m keeping my prediction of a government shutdown happening this fall at 60 percent.

There were lots of questions about my 60 percent number after Donald Trump seemed to come to an agreement with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week over funding for the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico.

But Trump has again proved that he can’t be taken at his word about a shutdown. He tweeted this out a little after 9 am EDT this morning.

Today’s tweet provides some important clues as to the possibility of a shutdown.

First, Trump is using the threat of a shutdown to raise the immigration issue with his base. As I’ve said before, that may be very critical for Trump this fall.

Second, he’s signalling that he’ll blame House and Senate Democrats and, therefore, telling the congressional GOP leadership that the shutdown they’re desperate to avoid is less important to him than the wall.

Third, Trump is also telling Ryan and McConnell that he hasn’t yet agreed to anything.

As a result…I’m maintaining my previous estimate that there’s a 60 percent chance of a federal government shutdown this fall. I’m expecting that to go higher in the days ahead.

Follow Stan Collender @thebudgetguy

Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall

Trump finger

The specific issue that will trigger yet another federal government shutdown showdown this September will be Donald Trump’s seemingly pathological obsession with building a wall between the United States and Mexico.

Trump wants $25 billion to fully fund it, the GOP-controlled Congress so far has refused multiple times to provide it and the two sides are going to face off again about it in September when, because of the very slow action on the fiscal 2019 appropriations, a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the government operating.

Trump so far has backed down every time he previously threatened to shut the government over this issue. All it took was a vague promise by the Republican leadership that full funding for his wall would be considered next time or pressure from within his own administration to sign a bill without the funds to get the president to go along.

That’s why the common political wisdom is that Trump will back down again given that he so far has been the anti Teddy Roosevelt by speaking loudly but carrying a small stick.

And with the current GOP House and Senate majorities at risk, the White House theoretically shouldn’t want to keep the Republican representatives and senators running for reelection in Washington when they could be home campaigning and holding fundraisers. After all, much of Trump’s political success will depend on continued Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.

But there are 4 main reasons why what happens with Trump and the shutdown this time could be very different from what has come before.

First, Trump may see this as his last opportunity to get funding for his wall. If the Democrats win the majority this November, the chances of the wall being funded over the next two years will be close to zero.

The common political wisdom is that Trump will back down again given that he so far has been the anti Teddy Roosevelt by speaking loudly but carrying a small stick.

Second, a Trump-induced shutdown this September over full funding for the wall may be perceived by the White House as the best immigration issue to inflame his base just before the midterm election and, therefore, counter the enthusiasm gap about voting between Democrats and Republicans. If higher Trump-voter enthusiasm translates into continuing GOP House and Senate majorities, this year won’t be the last chance to get funding for the wall.

Third, Trump may look at the GOP congressional leadership’s strong desire to get its members home to campaign as increased leverage to get the full $25 billion because there will be an immediate negative impact — having to stay in Washington — if they don’t do what he wants.

Fourth, especially if his Supreme Court nominee is confirmed by the Senate and the economy remains strong, Trump may be feeling politically invincible this fall. To him, that would make this the perfect time to shut down the government because he will be able to blame others for it.

There’s much more here:

Pruitt And Kennedy Leaving Increases The Chances Of Government Shutdown To Over 50%

The House and Senate Appropriations Committee Are A Total Disgrace

The Definitive Larry Kudlow Take Down

Congress Could Use The Budget Process To Stop Trump’s Child Separation Policy

You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay