Trump And Leadership Look To Avoid A Government Shutdown

Robert Donachie | Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter

President Donald Trump and Republican leadership will face their first fiscal policy test in the upcoming budget negotiations in Congress next week.

Lawmakers are scheduled to return to Washington after a two-week long recess. Members of the Senate return Monday, followed by House members Tuesday. Congress will have just four days to pass some form of spending bill to keep the government solvent past April 28. After that date, funding for agencies that provide services the government deems “non-essential,” like federal museums or national parks, could get temporarily cut if Congress fails to strike an agreement.

It could be a bad look for Republicans if they allow the government to shutdown, especially following their first major legislative defeat with the American Health Care Act. Keeping the government operating is the basic test for any new administration. Former President Barack Obama faced the same test in 2013 when the government shutdown after lawmakers argued over Obamacare funding.

Democrats would not concede to Republican demands over Obamacare funding, causing the 2013 shutdown. A similar partisan divide is shaping up to make next week’s budget negotiations a rocky process.

Democrats in Congress have made it clear they will oppose any budget proposal that includes funding for Trump’s border wall. Another key issue for Democrats is whether Republicans will allow funding for Planned Parenthood to continue at current levels. Some Democrats also take offense to Trump’s demands for increases in defense spending while proposing large cuts to domestic programs.

Republicans face their own set of obstacles within their party. The divides that emerged between conservative and moderate-Republicans over health care reform could surface again in budgetary discussions. Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will have to figure out how to appease conservative members of their Party without alienating moderate and main-line Republicans.

Some Republican lawmakers are acknowledging the risk involved with not getting a budget finalized next week.

Even our most recalcitrant members understand that if you shut down the government while you’re running it and you control the House and the Senate, you can’t blame anybody but yourself,Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma told reporters.

If Trump and Congress are unable to reach an agreement, thousands of federal workers would be left to work without pay until the an agreement is struck. Veterans might also temporarily lose some benefits.

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