The Countdown on the Government Shutdown Begins in Congress

by on April 20, 2017 · 0 comments

in Civil Rights

CongressBy Doug Porter

Congress will return to ‘work’ next week, and the most pressing matter facing legislators is simply keeping the government from shutting down.

As it turns out, Day 100 of the Trump administration will be the first day past the end of Federal funding for most government departments. House and Senate staffers have spent the past two weeks trying to hammer out a bipartisan deal covering the final five months of the fiscal year.

Standing in the way of achieving an agreement are administration demands for border wall funding, cuts in domestic spending, a windfall for the military, and the eight Democratic votes needed to break a Senate filibuster.

Then there are the poison pills tied to the most extreme parts of the Trump agenda: funding for Planned Parenthood, ending federal grants to “sanctuary” cities and states, and money for ACA payments that subsidize health insurance copayments and deductibles for low-income people.

The House Freedom Caucus is likely to demand some or all of those things, meaning Democrats will be needed to move any budget resolution in the lower chamber.

Also on the chopping block are health benefits for 20,000 retired coal miners. The President’s silence on this subject is concerning to voters who supported his candidacy in states like West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. This particular item has served as a political football in past budget negotiations, and the most recent extension expires along with the current budget resolution.

From the Atlantic:

There’s good reason to be skeptical about the prospects for a deal. The Republican Congress has had a sputtering start to the year, falling short on a health-care bill for which they needed no help from Democrats. Schumer and Trump have spent more time insulting each other than bargaining, and the Democratic leader has little to gain politically from sparing the new president a nightmare on his 100th day in office.

That historical marker may be arbitrary, but the image-conscious Trump is reportedly invested in selling the public on his early, if limited, success. That might be incentive enough for an agreement. Trump isn’t getting a major health-care or tax-reform bill anytime soon. After 100 days in the White House, he might just have to settle for keeping the government open.

From Politico’s Playbook Afternoon Power Briefing:

PLANNING AHEAD — The House Democratic caucus is holding a members-only call tomorrow evening for updates on FY 2017 appropriations, tax and health care reform and foreign policy developments. WHAT’S THAT MEAN?: They’ll talk about government funding, and what they’ll try to extract from House Republicans if, and more likely when, they come to them for votes to avoid a shutdown. House Democratic leadership has focused on cost-sharing reduction payments, which reimburse insurers that help low income people receive medical care. Expect that to be a major focus for Democrats heading into next week.

What the President will need to do to encourage a bipartisan bill will be to keep his mouth shut and his twitter feed focused on other matters. something he hasn’t seemed to be able to do thus far.

This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s column at our other site, San Diego Free Press.




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