Government shutdown threat looms over Capitol Hill’s Christmas season


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You may forgive lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and Congressional journalists for missing tidings of consolation and pleasure.

They’re all too acquainted with varied phantasms depicting Christmas previous, Christmas current and, sure, Christmas future on Capitol Hill.

Though it has been stated many instances, some ways, December might be fairly wretched in Congress.

Andy Williams just about nailed it when he sang about “scary ghost tales and tales of the glories of Christmases lengthy, way back.”

Sprints to resume tax breaks earlier than the calendar flips to January. A Christmas Eve day vote on ObamaCare. Efforts to avert authorities shutdowns. Brawls over hurricane aid. A scrap over the “payroll tax” in 2011. The “fiscal cliff” of 2012 and 2013 was epic. Lawmakers fought up till Christmas, took a break and got here a-wassailing again to Washington to battle by way of New 12 months’s Day. Vice President Joe Biden rushed to the Capitol to barter on New 12 months’s Eve 2012 at round eight:30 pm and the Senate started voting at round 2 within the morning on Jan. 1, 2013.

December crises emerge with such regularity that the ox and lamb might nearly maintain time to the probability of Congressional fight this time of 12 months.

In the event you blinked Thursday afternoon, you’d have missed the Home and Senate approving a stopgap spending invoice to avert a partial authorities shutdown this weekend. The brand new deadline is 11:59:59 pm on Dec. 21.

That is the second interim spending invoice, often called a “CR” for “Persevering with Decision,” this fiscal 12 months.

On the second day of Christmas, somebody’s real love bequeathed them two turtle doves. In Congress, it is unclear what you get for the second CR in a fiscal 12 months. And if there’s a authorities shutdown, it’s sure that the ten lords a-leaping shall be amongst these furloughed.

This is the place we stand:

Congress and President Trump cast an settlement in September on 5 of the 12 annual appropriations payments. That left seven appropriations payments unfinished. Probably the most important was the Homeland Safety Appropriations measure, which might probably cowl cash for the border wall.

Democrats assume President Trump’s insistence on a border wall is as preposterous as Gayla Peevey demanding a hippopotamus for Christmas. Most Congressional Republicans and the President are dug in on this concern. This might be the final likelihood GOPers should fund the wall, since Democrats take management of the Home in January. So for now, Republicans are channeling the mantra that they “will not go till we get some.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., says it will be “silly to close down the federal government” and “silly to not discover a resolution” to this standoff. However Kennedy is aware of precisely the place Trump stands.

“I do not assume [the President’s] kidding. I feel he is ready to close the federal government down,” opined Kennedy.

“If President Trump needs to throw a mood tantrum and shut down the federal government over Christmas over the wall, that is his determination,” Senate Minority Chief Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., stated Thursday.

Any bundle to fund the federal government requires 60 votes to beat a filibuster within the Senate. Republicans at present management 51 seats. That is why they want the assist of at the least 9 Democrats. It is typically thought that Senate Democrats could also be keen to cave on some funding for the wall. Nevertheless it’s a unique story within the Home.

Few if any Home Democrats would vote for any plan to fund the federal government if it consists of wall cash. Which means Home Republicans, within the majority for the second, might be known as upon to advance a spending invoice to run the federal government, and presumably fund the wall, by themselves.

“We have got to safe our border,” stated Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the long run chair of the Home Republican Convention, the third-highest place within the Home GOP hierarchy. “The truth that we’ve got Democrats refusing to allocate sources to do this, nicely, the American individuals will not be joyful.”

However the issue with border wall funding might not lie with Democrats however Republicans. A number of Home GOP sources advised Fox Information that Republicans lack the votes to move any spending invoice on their very own with or with out wall funding. The mathematics would not work on the GOP facet of the aisle. Over the summer time, the Home twice rejected payments to completely fund the wall.

This is the opposite downside. Fox Information is advised there are a variety of defeated or retiring Home Republicans who do not intend to come back again to Washington so near Christmas. In some methods, a vote simply earlier than the Dec. 21 deadline might truly assist avert one other shutdown if attendance dwindles. The result might hinge on who exhibits up.

Additionally, some conservatives privately concede they’d like a shutdown to hamstring Democrats as they assume management of the Home in January.

“If I had been the president, I’d keep it up,” stated Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in regards to the push for wall cash. “I’ve all the time thought extra wall funding is critical. And we have got to do one thing with the DACA recipients. Perhaps when you marry these two up [Trump] might finish the 12 months on a excessive be aware.”


When requested if she would settle for some wall funding in trade for a DACA deal, Home Minority Chief Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., replied with an emphatic “no.” Pelosi contends that the border wall and a DACA repair are “two totally different topics” and advocates approving particular person variations of six of the spending payments after which okaying a CR till Sept. 30, 2019 (the tip of the fiscal 12 months) for the Division of Homeland Safety.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., took a dim view of Pelosi’s proposal.

“I imagine the perfect route is to maintain the seven (appropriations payments) collectively,” stated Shelby.

This train additionally poses a problem for the Home Republican management. Some conservatives are positive to be apoplectic if the GOP brass accepts something wanting full wall funding. That grants these conservatives the prospect to drive a wedge between Republicans as to who’s preventing the toughest for the wall and serving as a rearguard for Trump. Some Republicans might even relish a struggle with their leaders over the wall.


What’s exceptional at this stage of the appropriations course of is the lack of understanding. Nobody is even positive who’s driving the sleigh. Is it outgoing Home Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.? Home Majority Chief Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., – who’s about to grow to be Home Minority Chief McCarthy? Potential Home Speaker Pelosi? (Only a reminder. she would not fairly have the required variety of votes to grow to be Speaker in January nailed down but.) Retiring Home Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J.?

So put together your self for Christmas on the Capitol.

And if there is a authorities shutdown on Dec. 22, that is the nightmare earlier than Christmas.

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