A Bigger Shutdown Fight Looms in September

President Trump seems eager for a standoff, as this week’s spending deal only delays inevitable hot-button policy battles.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, accompanied by Sens. Cory Gardner, John Barrasso, and John Thune, speaks to reporters following a policy luncheon Tuesday.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Alex Rogers
Add to Briefcase
Alex Rogers
May 2, 2017, 8 p.m.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s next 150 days could be even more di­vis­ive than the first 100.

On Tues­day, Pres­id­ent Trump tweeted, “Our coun­try needs a good ‘shut­down’ in Septem­ber to fix mess,” fol­low­ing his call to either elect more Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors or to change the rules of the Sen­ate in or­der to jam through his agenda. He was ap­par­ently frus­trated by re­ports that Demo­crats won a num­ber of con­ces­sions in ne­go­ti­at­ing the latest spend­ing bill to keep the gov­ern­ment open through Septem­ber—when high-pro­file fund­ing fights over abor­tion, a bor­der wall, de­fense money, and more could boil over.

The battle cry from the pres­id­ent ur­ging Con­gress to neg­lect its du­ties and shut­ter the gov­ern­ment was later called by Trump budget chief Mick Mul­vaney “a de­fens­ible po­s­i­tion.” But mem­bers of Con­gress slammed the tweet, call­ing it de­struct­ive to the le­gis­lat­ive branch’s ba­sic gov­ern­ing func­tion.

“No, we don’t need a gov­ern­ment shut­down, and no, we shouldn’t change Sen­ate rules on the le­gis­lat­ive fili­buster,” GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Ari­zona tweeted back to Trump.

Jim Dyer, a Re­pub­lic­an le­gis­lat­ive guru who has spent more than 40 years spin­ning through the re­volving doors con­nect­ing the White House, Con­gress, and lob­by­ing cor­ridors of Wash­ing­ton, told Na­tion­al Journ­al that he’d nev­er heard any­thing like it be­fore.

“He is ob­vi­ously ex­press­ing some frus­tra­tion,” said Dyer. “You nev­er know with him. I’ve giv­en up, as maybe you have too, in try­ing to un­der­stand the mes­sages he’s try­ing to send out.”

While this most re­cent spend­ing fight has been ex­as­per­at­ing to the pres­id­ent, the next ones will prove even more chal­len­ging. After Con­gress passes the $1.1 tril­lion spend­ing bill this week, “then it really gets hard,” said Dyer, who now works at the Podesta Group.

In late May, Trump is ex­pec­ted to re­lease a budget for the next fisc­al year that will in­clude a re­quest for money to build the wall on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, which was blocked by Con­gress in the latest spend­ing fight. Seni­or Re­pub­lic­ans on Cap­it­ol Hill wish that the pres­id­ent would move away from his top cam­paign pri­or­ity, and to­wards build­ing upon vic­tor­ies they earned in the new spend­ing bill, namely $1.5 bil­lion in new fund­ing to oth­er­wise se­cure the bor­der.

“It’s not help­ful to his goal and my goal to just be talk­ing about a bor­der wall,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the ma­jor­ity whip, told re­port­ers Tues­day. “I’d like to see a com­pre­hens­ive bor­der-se­cur­ity plan, and we’re work­ing to provide some ideas along that line that I think will help us sort of change the dis­cus­sion from more than just in­fra­struc­ture.”

The budget will be hard enough to pass even without the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­quest to build a bor­der wall. The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to add $54 bil­lion to­wards the de­fense of the coun­try while cut­ting that much in do­mest­ic pro­grams—an ask that Demo­crats and some Re­pub­lic­ans will vig­or­ously op­pose.

Then, in the fall, Re­pub­lic­ans will be hit with a dead­line to raise the U.S.’s bor­row­ing au­thor­ity. In 2015, when they con­trolled Con­gress but not the White House, 167 House Re­pub­lic­ans and 35 Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors voted against a bill that raised the debt lim­it and set the budget to 2017.

Then, by Sept. 30, Re­pub­lic­ans will have to pass a bill to fund the gov­ern­ment after the pres­id­ent and his budget chief ad­voc­ated to shut it down. Oth­er stick­ing points be­sides the bor­der wall, such as fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood and cer­tain Obama­care sub­sidies for low-in­come people, will ree­m­erge. That spend­ing fight will be even more dif­fi­cult than the latest one be­cause ap­pro­pri­at­ors have not yet had time to work on any of their bills.

“We’ve got 12 bills. We haven’t had one markup. So there’s no way we’re go­ing to get all of our ap­pro­pri­ations done by Septem­ber,” said one House Re­pub­lic­an ap­pro­pri­at­or, Rep. Tom Rooney of Flor­ida.

These are all ba­sic gov­ern­ment func­tions, not to men­tion the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s goal to pass both health care and tax-re­form bills that would dra­mat­ic­ally change the U.S. eco­nomy. Those ef­forts build on each oth­er. Passing the health care bill and a budget make it easi­er to pass tax re­form, since the Obama­care-re­peal bill would lower the tax baseline ne­ces­sary to make it rev­en­ue neut­ral, and with rules that avoid the 60-vote threshold.

But des­pite their ag­gress­ive agenda this year, and their will­ing­ness to pass both health care and tax re­form with only 51 votes through the budget-re­con­cili­ation pro­cess, Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors knocked Trump’s call to change the rules in or­der to make it pos­sible for them to ad­vance bills with only a simple ma­jor­ity, ar­guing that the 60-vote threshold for most le­gis­la­tion was use­ful when they wer­en’t in power. In his press con­fer­ence Tues­day, Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell re­it­er­ated that the Sen­ate would not get rid of the le­gis­lat­ive fili­buster.

While he did not re­peat his past dis­pleas­ure with Trump’s tweet­ing, Mc­Con­nell on Tues­day was joined by oth­er Re­pub­lic­ans in a call for the pres­id­ent to go ana­log.

“I really do wish some­body would take his iPhone away from him,” Sen. Bob Cork­er, a Re­pub­lic­an from Ten­ness­ee, said to re­port­ers.

Daniel Newhauser and George E. Condon Jr. contributed to this article.
What We're Following See More »
"BORDERLINE FRAUD"
Democrats May Sue to Keep Collins on Ballot
9 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Democrats are threatening to take the GOP to court to keep Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), who’s been charged with insider trading, on the November ballot. New York Democrats believe they have a better shot of flipping the ruby-red, Buffalo-area seat if the embattled congressman’s name stays on the ballot, and want to keep Republicans from replacing him with a potentially less-toxic candidate." According to New York election law, must run for another office, move out of state or die to be removed from the ballot. A local Democratic leader called it "borderline fraud" to keep Collins on the ballot.

Source:
"HAVEN'T BEEN IN EVERY ROOM"
Sanders Won't Categorically Deny that Trump Used "N-Word"
11 hours ago
THE LATEST
THEY CALLED NO WITNESSES
Manafort Defense Rests
14 hours ago
THE LATEST
ANDREW MILLER IS AN AIDE TO ROGER STONE
Judge Holds Witness in Contempt in Manafort Case
4 days ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."

Source:
TAX FRAUD, FAILURE TO REGISTER
Gates Says He Committed Crimes with Manafort
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates said in court today that "he conspired with Manafort to falsify Manafort’s tax returns. Gates said he and Manafort knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and had failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login