Is a Government Shutdown in the Cards?

With Congress on recess for one more week and the April 28 government funding deadline looming, talk of a government shutdown escalated in the media this weekend.

Republican leaders want to show that they can adopt a funding bill that provides the government with sufficient funding, while Democratic leaders pledge that they will not support any bill that includes so-called ‘poison pills.’ Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said that for a bill to be signed, it must reflect Trump’s budget priorities:

  • A provision to withhold ObamaCare payments to insurance companies for giving discounted deductibles to low-income ObamaCare enrollees. Democrats have said that they will not support any government funding bill until this proposal is taken off the table.
  • A provision to withhold grant funds from cities that give “sanctuary” to undocumented immigrants. Democrats indicate that they will fight this provision – and this might be enough to end support for any appropriations bill.
  • A provision to fund the Mexico Border Wall. Democrats say they will oppose any funding bill that includes funding for the wall. Meanwhile, Mulvaney has said that the president is not prepared to sign an appropriations bill that does not include funding for the wall. Democrats reportedly wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that Republicans will be responsible for “shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy” if they push an appropriations bill that includes funding for the wall.

And finally, there is the president’s requirement of increased funding for the military, which will need to be offset by non-defense discretionary programs like CDBG, the social services block grant, housing, workforce development, and other human services programs.

Traditionally, Congress finds a way to get around a shutdown. But the two week shutdown that occurred in October 2013 must be a cautionary reminder that when positions become deeply entrenched and contrary – a government shutdown may not be far behind.

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