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.