Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Shut Down or Put Up

When President Barack Obama was in office, Mitch McConnell and his Republicans were good at shutting the government down...Now with their man Donald Trump in office, they face a shutdown of their own making...

After their already shaky start, it is hard to imagine Republicans would want to top off a chaotic first 100 days of unified government control with a disruptive federal government shutdown.

But that astounding scenario remains a live possibility this week as lawmakers and the Trump White House have so far been unable to agree on a plan to fund the government beyond Friday despite months of staring at the hard April 28 deadline.

 It is an unsettling but not unfamiliar position for congressional Republicans who have forced government closures in the past and know well that they will be assigned the brunt of the blame if federal agencies are shuttered yet again.

Should a shutdown occur, this one would have a defining new wrinkle. The politically charged spending fights that closed the government during the Clinton and Obama administrations were the product of clashes between congressional Republicans and a Democratic White House in a sharply divided Washington.

Today, Republicans control both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and allowing the federal government to go dark on their watch might be hard to explain.VERY HARD TO EXPLAIN!

“Our Republican colleagues know that since they control, you know, the House, the Senate and the White House, that a shutdown would fall on their shoulders, and they don’t want it,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

Republican leaders from President Trump on down insist they are determined to avoid a shutdown and will be successful in doing so. Failure would put a bizarre exclamation point on the symbolic 100-day marker that the administration coincidentally will reach Saturday.
“No one wants a shutdown,” Sean Spicer, the White House spokesman, told reporters on Friday. “We want to keep it going.”

Republicans have good reason for doing so considering that history shows the party image takes a beating with the public when government agencies lock their doors, national parks refuse visitors and federal workers are told not to report to work.

Democrats, while not victorious in special House elections held so far, have shown renewed strength, and a shutdown in the early days of Republican stewardship of Washington would only fuel their energy.

The spending drama is the first Trump-era clash in which minority Democrats have real leverage, and they intend to use it to stop the White House and congressional conservatives from pushing through spending that Democrats oppose, such as money for a wall on the southern border.

Lawmakers, who have been negotiating for weeks to try to reach a compromise, say they were steadily progressing until the White House in recent days began taking a more aggressive posture, insisting that Mr. Trump wanted a least a down payment on the construction of a border wall that was central to his successful presidential campaign.

“Elections have consequences,” Mick Mulvaney, the former House conservative who is now the head of the Office of Management and Budget, told The Associated Press in an interview. He offered Democrats a deal: The administration would support continued subsidies for millions of people receiving health insurance through the Affordable Care Act in exchange for Democrats agreeing to the initial wall funding.


Mr. Schumer called that proposal a nonstarter. Other Democrats suggested they saw no reason to accept that offer because Republicans are separately but simultaneously trying to unravel the health care program. They also believe that if White House refusal to fund the subsidies caused a collapse of the health insurance market, Republicans would get the political blame for that upheaval, as well.
Though a shutdown would most likely inflict significant political damage on Republicans, Democrats say they, too, want to keep the government running because shutdowns are costly, reckless and shake both public and international confidence in United States institutions.

But they also say that if the Trump administration and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill want to engage in a nasty political fight and shut the government down in a fit of pique over funding a border wall that even some Republicans do not back, then they are welcome to it. Both sides expect that if the impasse cannot be quickly breached, Congress will most likely extend current funding by a week to allow more time for a deal.


The question for Democrats is whether the White House is bluffing on its border wall demands so that the administration can later tell Republican voters that they pushed as hard as they could to get the money, particularly with so little to show legislatively for Mr. Trump’s first 100 days besides the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice, Neil M. Gorsuch. Mr. Trump is the wild card — would he shut down the government to prove he will not relent on his demands? And would Republican leaders stand with him?

Democrats have been on the sidelines while Republicans pushed through Trump nominees, rolled back federal regulations and sought unsuccessfully to disassemble the health care law without consultation with the minority party. But the appropriations process is a different animal.

Not only do Republicans need Democratic help because some Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to vote for any spending bills at all, Republicans are also likely to need 60 votes in the Senate to overcome Democratic objections. And Senate Democrats have proved over the past two years that they are able to remain united and stymie Republicans on spending bills if they do not agree with what Republicans put forward.

The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has said repeatedly that Democratic votes will be required to avert a shutdown. Mr. McConnell has also acknowledged previously that the Republican Party “owns the government shutdown brand.”
“It’s not a good brand,” he said.  He's right about that!

Democrats do not agree with Mr. McConnell on much, but they do on that last statement. And that will strengthen their confidence in the quickly approaching showdown.

Stay Tuned.....The Shit Show is just beginning!

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