Congress is much like college: most of the important stuff gets done the night before. The stop-gap measure for the debt ceiling is a prime example of that. Trump and Congress managed to get through a temporary measure to avert a major crisis. The financial stop-gap measure will allow federal institutions to be funded for another two weeks until the debt ceiling again discussed before a potential government shutdown on December 22.
Once again, in an effort to stay on top of events, Republicans have done little than to kick a problem down the road. They are desperate to keep avoiding this problem until it becomes too big to ignore. Sooner or later, a budget is going to have to be passed. Trump should let his party negotiate with the Democrats and stop asking for a government shutdown.
A government shutdown would not just affect park rangers, NASA employees, and the National Zoo. Non-essentials can sometimes affect other departments such as EPA, Education, Energy, the Food and Drug Administration along with many others. Shutdowns tend to last a week or so, but if it goes on longer than two weeks, more agencies could be shut down and the economy could be badly affected. Since most of the world depends on the US Dollar being trustworthy, messing with that trust is playing a dangerous game.
Trump might blame Democrats for any government shutdown but the nervous tension in Congress and the swiftness of the temporary measure tells a different story. Conservatives might join their president in blaming Democrats but it is equally likely that they’ll blame the Republicans and Trump. The fact that a government shutdown would occur before Christmas and possibly extend into the New Year would be devastating for the GOP.
In fact, the whole issue itself is a problem. Republicans didn’t want to be debating the debt ceiling in December, but Trump’s deal with the Democrats back in September has left the administration with the Sword of Damocles hanging over their head. If the debate rumbles into next year or the shutdown happens, it’ll make the 2018 elections that much harder to win.
In some ways, the fact that the measure got through at all is a sign of how things are changing. The House had enough votes to pass the measure, signaling an end to a feud with the Freedom Caucus and the Senate passed the bill without much heartache. The problem comes with how to actually solve the impasse right now. Republicans will either have to concede to the demands of the Democrats or grit their teeth over a shutdown.
For Democrats, they are digging their heels over legislation over DACA. By now, they know that much of their liberal base will be enraged if a deal is passed without immigration assurances and provisions for ‘Dreamers’ or something to replace the DACA Act. Republicans are hoping that eight Democrats can be swayed but it’s a long shot. Bailing out Puerto Rico and keeping Obamacare afloat wouldn’t go amiss either.
On the Republican side, as well as dealing with their spoiled toddler for a President, they have their own battles to fight. The Republican leadership is trying to negotiate with Democrats while the White House tries to pick fights. The Freedom Caucus is making its demands known asking whether they can afford to increase military spending while keeping domestic spending at the same level. Good luck getting the Senate to agree on that one!
Trump is a sticking point. If he insists on funding for a border wall again or tries to derails talks over DACA, he might win some plaudits, but it’ll be disastrous for everyone else. Democrats will not concede to any of Trump’s demands while Republicans will struggle to be heard over the furious Tweets. Nothing says ‘acting in bad faith’ like your boss undermining your pitch. He talks tough and seems to welcome a shutdown, a prospect that could backfire on him if he insists on claiming credit for a booming economy he didn’t create. When workers lose their jobs and federal employees don’t get paid, right before Christmas and New Year, Trump will shoulder as much blame as Congress.
The staring contest between Democrats, Republicans, and Trump is growing more and more unsettling. The Democrats aren’t backing down, Trump is picking fights and the Republicans are struggling to preserve their hard-won unity.
The fate of thousands of workers and the confidence in the dollar depend on who blinks first.