A government shutdown this weekend appears a near-certainty as President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers seem unwilling to negotiate with Democrats.
Government funding for the current fiscal year runs out at midnight Friday, and though passage of another temporary funding bill by the GOP-controlled Congress before then once seemed the likeliest outcome, the negotiating climate among Republicans and Democrats has become increasingly “poisonous,” Reuters reported Tuesday.
The slim Republican margin of control in the Senate means Trump’s party will need some Democratic support to resolve the government funding standoff, but a sticking point has been the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that offered deportation amnesty for those who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children by a parent or guardian.
Democrats have said they want protection for DACA participants, or “Dreamers,” who are mostly Hispanic young adults. Trump last week rejected a bipartisan agreement reached by a group of senators on the matter. Divisions between Republicans and Democrats deepened amid an uproar over Trump’s reported use of the word “s—hole” when speaking about African countries last week.
Trump has denied using that language.
Backers of the bipartisan Senate immigration deal were not abandoning it, despite Trump’s rejection.
“The stopgap spending bill approved by Congress last year extends government funding until Jan. 19,” Jon Cooper, chairman of the Democratic Coalition, wrote on Twitter. “If a DACA deal isn’t reached by then that Trump commits to support, no Democrat should vote for a new spending bill. If there’s a government shutdown, the majority GOP is to blame.”
Topher Spiro, Center for American Progress’ vice president of health policy and senior fellow of economic policy, said a shutdown would be the fault of the GOP.
“Trump killed a bipartisan deal that gave him everything he claimed he wanted,” Spiro said. “It has majority support in Congress, but the truth is it doesn’t keep out enough brown people.”
Ezra Klein, editor-at-large for Vox.com, noted that it’s “very weird” to see a shutdown looming when one party has control of the entire government.
“The issue here is Republicans don’t have unity in their own party so they need Democratic votes to govern, but they’re not willing to compromise to get those votes,” Klein said.
By Tuesday afternoon, Reuters reported that the risk of a shutdown were seen as higher, if not overwhelming.
“We expect the emergence of another short-term extension” of federal funding authority to prevent a partial government shutdown and keep the government open into February, said Ed Mills, an analyst at financial firm Raymond James.
“This is likely to be a week of brinkmanship and the potential of a government shutdown is elevated,” Mills said. “Should a shutdown occur, we do not expect much of a market reaction.”
If a temporary “continuing resolution” to keep the government operating results, it would be the fourth such measure since the 2018 federal fiscal year began on Oct. 1, a sign of Washington’s serious struggles to pass spending legislation, according to Reuters.
“Make no mistake about it, when a party holds the White House and majorities in both the House and Senate, they own any government shutdown,” said Charlie Cook, a nonpartisan political analyst for NBC News. “Things the president has said and done over the last week have only increased the price the GOP has to pay for that ownership.”