Congress looks to force Trump's hand on government shutdown threats

Congressional leaders announced yesterday that they had reached a bipartisan deal on the budget that would fund most of the government for the year while including a continuing resolution to fund the rest of federal programs through December 7.

The fiscal year ends September 30, and unless Trump signs the bills, the government will begin shutting down.

Politico:

Capitol Hill leaders on Thursday announced a mammoth fiscal 2019 spending deal that achieves one of the Trump administration's top priorities – the Pentagon's first on-time spending bill since 2008.  But there's a catch.

The same package also funds some of the government's most sprawling agencies at levels that are billions of dollars more than Trump requested.  And if Trump refuses to sign it, much of the government, including parts of the Pentagon, would shutter.

"You effectively shut down the whole government," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior appropriator, said of the funding deal he helped shape.

Spending leaders from both parties detailed the strategy for the first time Thursday, just 17 days before government spending runs out.  The Senate is expected to easily approve the package next week.

Under the tactic, lawmakers will vote on a two-bill spending package that funds the Pentagon as well as health, labor and education programs.  There's also a new third component: Spending leaders said that the package will include temporary funding for every other agency facing a funding lapse on Sept. 30.

If approved, the bill would keep those government operations open until Dec. 7, about a month past the looming midterm elections.

Longtime appropriators of both parties said that strategy effectively ties the administration's hands – forcing Trump to decide between signing a spending bill with domestic funding levels he detests, or forcing a potential funding crisis at the Pentagon.

Trump said he would never sign another funding bill like the $1.3-trillion omnibus spending measure in March 2018.  That promise is going to be put to the test, say House conservatives.

"Most of the Democrats will vote for this and smile very big," Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Thursday.  "It's a Democrat 'Labor-HHS' bill."

The Republican Study Committee, an influential group of about 170 GOP lawmakers, also released a statement Thursday that suggested its members would be willing to oppose the upcoming package – even if it means voting against the Pentagon cash.

House GOP leaders aren't worried about the Republican whip count, according to lawmakers and aides, in part because of the politically toxic prospect of voting against the military's budget just weeks ahead of election day.

"If they want to vote against Defense, that's up to them," said Cole, the lead negotiator on the domestic package.  He quoted his Democratic colleague, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) about how both parties' negotiators decided to work together: "We can have a deal, or we can have a fight, but we can't have both."

GOP leaders aren't worried because Democrats are fully on board with the massive spending proposal.  Even if 70 or 80 conservatives vote against it, the bills will still pass easily with the support of Democrats.

The deficit is already close to a trillion dollars, so most of the politicians think, "What's a few hundred billion more?"  It's a question not of "if," but of "when" the meltdown will happen.  It could be sooner than we think.

Congressional leaders announced yesterday that they had reached a bipartisan deal on the budget that would fund most of the government for the year while including a continuing resolution to fund the rest of federal programs through December 7.

The fiscal year ends September 30, and unless Trump signs the bills, the government will begin shutting down.

Politico:

Capitol Hill leaders on Thursday announced a mammoth fiscal 2019 spending deal that achieves one of the Trump administration's top priorities – the Pentagon's first on-time spending bill since 2008.  But there's a catch.

The same package also funds some of the government's most sprawling agencies at levels that are billions of dollars more than Trump requested.  And if Trump refuses to sign it, much of the government, including parts of the Pentagon, would shutter.

"You effectively shut down the whole government," Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a senior appropriator, said of the funding deal he helped shape.

Spending leaders from both parties detailed the strategy for the first time Thursday, just 17 days before government spending runs out.  The Senate is expected to easily approve the package next week.

Under the tactic, lawmakers will vote on a two-bill spending package that funds the Pentagon as well as health, labor and education programs.  There's also a new third component: Spending leaders said that the package will include temporary funding for every other agency facing a funding lapse on Sept. 30.

If approved, the bill would keep those government operations open until Dec. 7, about a month past the looming midterm elections.

Longtime appropriators of both parties said that strategy effectively ties the administration's hands – forcing Trump to decide between signing a spending bill with domestic funding levels he detests, or forcing a potential funding crisis at the Pentagon.

Trump said he would never sign another funding bill like the $1.3-trillion omnibus spending measure in March 2018.  That promise is going to be put to the test, say House conservatives.

"Most of the Democrats will vote for this and smile very big," Rep. Mark Meadows, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, told reporters Thursday.  "It's a Democrat 'Labor-HHS' bill."

The Republican Study Committee, an influential group of about 170 GOP lawmakers, also released a statement Thursday that suggested its members would be willing to oppose the upcoming package – even if it means voting against the Pentagon cash.

House GOP leaders aren't worried about the Republican whip count, according to lawmakers and aides, in part because of the politically toxic prospect of voting against the military's budget just weeks ahead of election day.

"If they want to vote against Defense, that's up to them," said Cole, the lead negotiator on the domestic package.  He quoted his Democratic colleague, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) about how both parties' negotiators decided to work together: "We can have a deal, or we can have a fight, but we can't have both."

GOP leaders aren't worried because Democrats are fully on board with the massive spending proposal.  Even if 70 or 80 conservatives vote against it, the bills will still pass easily with the support of Democrats.

The deficit is already close to a trillion dollars, so most of the politicians think, "What's a few hundred billion more?"  It's a question not of "if," but of "when" the meltdown will happen.  It could be sooner than we think.