The April 28 deadline gets a day closer every day. And Congress doesn’t even resume meeting until Monday, April 24.
Time you’d think would be of the essence.
Yet the Trump administration continues to throw obstacles in the way of reaching a deal that would authorize the government to spend money on anything after the current Continuing Resolution expires on April 28.
The first obstacle results from the insistence from the White House, voiced again just yesterday, that Congress, or at least the House of Representatives, vote to repeal and replace Obamacare before moving on to any other issues. At the moment there’s no draft legislation of the most recent amendment worked out by the leaders of the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group–and there’s no whip count on how many votes this proposal might gain from Republicans in the House. It’s unlikely to gain a single Democratic vote. And it’s almost certainly dead on arrival in the Senate–if it were to get that far.
Second, there’s the set of demands delivered Wednesday by White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney to leaders of both parties who had been trying to work out a relatively clean Continuing Resolution that would fund the government to the end of this fiscal year in September. The administration’s demands include billions in new spending to fund the initial stages of The Wall, a $30 billion increase in military spending, and power to deny federal money to any sanctuary city that doesn’t fully cooperate with the administration’s plans to arrest and deport illegal immigrants.
Those are all non-starters with Democrats–and many Republicans. There’s stuff in there for both conservative and moderate Republicans to hate.
In addition by adding new spending to any proposed bill Congress would not be able to use the Continuing Resolution mechanism to provide stop-gap spending authority. And that would impose higher hurdles–especially in the Senate–that any legislation would need to jump.
Mulvaney indicated in submitting the White House demands that the Trump administration believes that they can horse-trade for Democratic support by offering sweeteners such as insurance subsidies for low-income Americans to keep the Affordable Care Act working.
I think that’s a misreading of the mood of Democrats who are pretty much united in not giving President Trump any significant legislative victories in the administration’s first 100 days. (That period ends on April 29.)
And I think it also fails to understand the depth of conservative Republican opposition to anything that might be tempting to Democrats. As I do the math, anything that might pick up a vote from Democrats is likely to cost as many or more conservative Republican votes.
Mulvaney delivered the administration’s list of demands with the same ham-handed arrogance that has been so effective in dealing with the legislative branch so far in Trump’s term. “We’re certainly going to spend some money,” Mulvaney said at the Institute of International Finance on Thursday. “The president wants a trillion dollars worth of work on the ground, and we’re going to give it to him.”
In my opinion the odds of some kind of temporary shutdown just went up–although I still think the leaders of Congressional Republicans will do everything they can to avoid a replay of the last time they shut down the government in 2013. That time government workers went on furlough for 16 days.