WASHINGTON, D.C. – Even though a stopgap budget bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives Thursday night, that piece of legislation is not expected to enjoy the necessary support of 60 votes to pass the U.S. Senate.
The lead up to the Midnight Friday deadline to keep government open has been wrought with the kind of Chicken Little ‘The Sky Is Falling’ talking points across the Mainstream Media. In truth, a government ‘shutdown’ is exceedingly partial in that it only affects ‘non-essential’ parts of the federal government, or a mere eight percent.
Now, conservatives could rightly argue that a much higher percentage of the federal government is actually ‘non-essential,’ but I digress.
It wasn’t too long ago that Republicans, namely Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), shutdown the government over an impasse related to the funding of Obamacare. At that time Democrats fear mongered in unison about the detrimental effects of the shutdown, and lambasted the Republicans for creating such chaos. Other Republicans, for their part, were mostly fearful and weak-kneed, surmising that they would catch the brunt of the political damage.
During the subsequent shutdown, then-President Obama tried his best to tighten the screws by shutting down open-air monuments and the like. Ridiculous to say the least.
My, how times change. This time around Republicans are attempting to whip votes for a temporary spending measure to keep the government open, and Democrats are petulantly refusing unless they get amnesty legislation for ‘Dreamers.’
While many Republicans are still scared they will receive the majority of blame (Establishment Republicans are usually scared of their own shadow), many others, and President Trump, are rightly assigning blame to the minority party for making ridiculous demands that have nothing to do with core operations. Democrats are looking to score political points, but Trump is not one to play ball, and the approach could backfire on the Left.
Still, Trump summoned Senate Minority Leader and Prime Time Leftist Chuck Schumer to the White House on Friday to attempt to work something out.
“The meeting is between just Trump and Schumer, a fact sure to produce anxiety among Republicans worried the president might offer Schumer too much to ward off a shutdown.
Trump surprised Republicans last fall by reaching a deal on government funding with Democrats as GOP leaders sat in the same room.
The president has sent contrasting signals in these talks, at times sounding open to a deal and at other times taking a hard-line position.”
Trump bills himself as a master deal maker, so let’s hope that, if a deal is made, it is to the benefit of his preferred immigration policies. Or, at the very least, the stunt ends in a stalemate that Trump then hangs around Democrats’ necks for being unwilling to negotiate.
Behind all of this drama, though, is something very important that is not getting much press. The spending measure approved by the House raises spending levels across the board. That does not bode well for Republicans who are expected to reign in spending and execute fiscally conservative budget policies, especially after the blow back from Republican deficit hawks over the recent tax cuts.
The support in the House to put the bill over the top came from the Freedom Caucus, ironically, but the reasons are reportedly due to promises by House Speaker Ryan to raise military spending and introduce conservative immigration legislation in return.
Freedom Caucus Chariman and North Carolinian Rep. Mark Meadows has proven adept at working the group’s voting leverage to gain concessions from the Establishment.
“The Freedom Caucus’ main concern was that the short-term bill — called a continuing resolution (CR) — would not give the military adequate resources to perform at a high level and extend the uncertainty over funding for defense.
The bill as it’s currently constructed would extend the deadline for a shutdown to February 16.
After meeting with Ryan, Meadows said that there is “hopefully a path to 218 votes in the House,” referencing the necessary support a bill needs to go through the chamber. The North Carolina Republican also said he would advise the Freedom Caucus to vote for the deal.
“Obviously, I would be recommending to our caucus based on what I just heard that we support the president in this particular initiative,” Meadows told reporters.
Soon after his remarks, the Freedom Caucus tweeted support for the funding bill.”
How much do you trust Paul Ryan?
Moving on, no such conservative leverage exists in the Senate, thus the current dilemma.
It remains to be seen if a deal will be worked out, but if history is any lesson, congress usually finds it easy to spend money. That would make the odds for a deal higher, but not certain.
The main point to understand, though, is that a government shutdown is not the end of the world -far from it. Some federal paychecks may be delayed for a few days, a park gate may be closed, and some federal workers will get a paid holiday.
Republicans should stand strong and let the Democrats take this one on the chin.