After a week of flip-flops on everything from the value of NATO to labeling China a currency manipulator, moves which quickly earned him the moniker of 'flipper-in-chief' from a disgruntled base, Trump, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military.
Once Congress returns to work from their Easter break they'll have just 5 days to unveil, debate and pass a spending bill, or trigger a government shutdown on April 28 which would come right before the 100th day of Donald Trump's presidency. That said, officials could also strike a one-week compromise, giving them more time for a broader agreement.
People familiar with the negotiations say Mick Mulvaney, the budget
director, and Marc Short, the White House legislative affairs director, are pushing congressional appropriators to include "billions" for their agenda in private conversations. The White House, one person familiar with the conversations said, has pushed for $3 billion for the border wall, and discussions have been ongoing.
"The CR is our biggest focus right now," one senior administration official said, referring to the continuing resolution on spending.
Of course, in order to get a budget passed, the Trump administration will likely require some Democratic support in the House and certainly in the Senate. That said, Democratic leaders Schumer and Pelosi insist that any budgets that include funding for Trump's 'beautiful' border wall is a non-starter. Per Politico:
Securing the $1.4 billion down payment would help Trump fulfill a top campaign promise but it’s facing stiff Democratic resistance. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said adding wall funding would be “a loser” — finding few Democratic votes while even losing some Republicans.
"The only thing that could derail that progress is the White House insisting on their extraneous demands, which would meet bipartisan opposition,” said Matt House, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned Thursday that including funding for the border wall will almost certainly cause a loss of Democratic support. “I would hope that they wouldn’t try that,” she said, adding, “the American people don’t even support it.”
But, the border wall and additional funding for immigration enforcement aren't the only issues that could force a government shutdown. As Politico notes, disputes over withholding funding to so-called 'Sanctuary Cities', and/or the defunding of Obamacare subsidies or Coal miners' health benefits could also end in a stalemate.
One of the latest threats to a bipartisan accord comes directly from White House budget director Mick Mulvaney.
The former conservative GOP lawmaker has been privately urging Republicans to include a provision blocking federal grants for any city that doesn’t enforce federal immigration law. To Democrats, the idea is a nonstarter. But Mulvaney sees it as a chance to get his former House Freedom Caucus colleagues to back the bill, so GOP leaders wouldn’t have to rely on Democratic votes.
The 2010 health care law is again in the middle of a funding fight, but this time, it’s Democrats who are making an issue of it.
Democratic leaders declared that any spending bill must provide money for a key Obamacare subsidy program after Trump threatened to defund the cost-sharing subsidies; the president sees the program as a way to force Democrats to the negotiating table.
Schumer told reporters this week that Democrats are “very hopeful” the payments would be included, but Republicans aren’t exactly eager to pay for the health subsidies, which they have sued to block.
In the wake of last month’s Obamacare repeal meltdown by the House GOP, Republicans are in no mood to further prop up the law. But key health and business lobbies, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, say GOP leaders may have no choice if they want to prevent an imminent collapse of the individual insurance marketplace. Another option is simply for the Trump administration to continue making the payments and avoid any final decision in the spending bill.
Coal miners’ benefits
Congress was hours away from a government shutdown last fall over a disputed miners’ health care program. Now, the benefits of 16,000 retired workers and federal funding are again on the line.
Democrats and some coal country Republicans have insisted on a long-term solution for the workers’ health care as well as a separate pension fund, but a 10-year fix could cost about $3 billion and is running into opposition among conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation along with House GOP budget hawks.
So what say you? Are we headed for another government shutdown or will the flipper-in-chief cave again?