House Passes Spending Bill, But Shutdown Threat Still Looms

With just hours to go, it seems increasingly unlikely that the Senate can reach a deal to keep the government open.

Government shutdown

Late yesterday, the  House of Representatives passed a government funding bill that would keep the government operating through mid-February, but the prospects for a deal of any kind making it through the Senate seem slim as the clock ticks down to a government shutdown at midnight tonight:

WASHINGTON — The Senate is heading toward a showdown vote on Friday on legislation to keep the government open past midnight, and Democrats appear ready to block it, gambling that a weakened President Trump will have to offer concessions in the face of a looming government crisis.

After the House cleared stopgap spending legislation on Thursday that would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, Senate Republicans are set to test whether Democrats will make good on their promise to move the government toward a shutdown. But Democrats appear intent on securing concessions that would, among other things, protect from deportation young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, increase domestic spending, aid Puerto Rico and bolster the government’s response to the opioid epidemic.

And they hope that Mr. Trump, scorched by the firestorm prompted by his vulgar, racially tinged comments on Africa last week, will be forced back to the negotiating table.

“Republicans control the House, they control the Senate and they control the presidency,” said Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont. “The government stays open if they want it to stay open, and it shuts down if they want it to shut down. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and time to start negotiating in good faith.”

In an early-morning Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Trump put pressure on Democrats to keep the federal government open.

If Democrats vote the bill down, the move would hold undeniable risks. Ten Senate Democrats are running for re-election in states that Mr. Trump won in 2016, and many of those states — such as Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia — may hold little sympathy for one of the primary causes of the looming shutdown: protecting young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, lamented the Democrats’ “fixation on illegal immigration” at the expense of addressing other matters.

Instead, Republicans emphasized what Democrats were voting against: continued funding for the military and renewed funding for children’s health care.

“If Senate Democrats obstruct this legislation — and as a result shut down the government — they have made the decision to cut off pay to our troops and block children’s health care funding they support,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the majority leader.

The bill, which passed the House hours earlier, 230 to 197, would keep the government open for a month, provide funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program for six years and delay or suspend a handful of taxes imposed by the Affordable Care Act.

At least about a dozen Senate Democratic votes will probably be needed to approve the measure because some Republican senators are expected to vote no and Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, is absent.

More from The Washington Post:

The showdown over government funding shifted Friday to the Senate after the House passed a short-term extension that was cobbled together with enough GOP votes to overcome an internal revolt.

Still, the possibility of a federal shutdown moved closer to a certainty after Senate Democrats rallied against the GOP proposal, announcing they would not lend their votes to a bill that did not reflect their priorities on immigration, government spending and other issues.

“Shutdown coming?” President Trump tweeted Friday, attempting to blame Senate Democrats for the logjam with the midnight deadline looming.

“Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives,” Trump wrote. “Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate — but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”

By Thursday evening, nine Senate Democrats who had voted for a spending measure in December said they would not support the latest proposed four-week extension, joining 30 other Democrats and at least two Senate Republicans — and leaving the bill short of the 60 votes needed to advance.

As a result, Republican leaders — long on the defensive against claims that they were failing to govern — appeared emboldened as they sought to cast the Democrats as the obstacle to a compromise to keep critical government functions operating.

“My Democratic colleagues’ demands on illegal immigration, at the behest of their far-left base, have crowded out all other important business,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday night. “And now they are threatening to crowd out the needs of veterans, military families, opioid treatment centers and every other American who relies on the federal government — all over illegal immigration.”

Senators of both parties voted to open debate on the House bill late Thursday, but Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Democrats remained opposed to the measure and proposed a spending extension that would last just a few days to allow talks on a broader agreement to continue.

“We have to sit down together and solve this, with the president or without,” he said.

Republican leaders rejected that suggestion. They did not lay out a Plan B to pursue if the House bill is ultimately rejected, except to point blame at Democrats for a shutdown.

“I ask the American people to understand this: The only people in the way of keeping the government open are Senate Democrats,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday night. “Whether there is a government shutdown or not is entirely up to them.”

The Senate is not scheduled to resume business until 11:00 am this morning, and as things stand now it appears unlikely that they’ll be able to reach a deal to keep the government open unless one side or the other blinks and moves to make concessions to avoid a shutdown. As I noted yesterday, Republicans are at least three votes short of even having the 50 votes they would need to pass the legislation due to both the absence of Senator John McCain for health reasons and the announcement by Senators Lindsey Graham and Mike Rounds that they would oppose the Continuing Resolution ultimately passed by the House last night. Later in the day, there were indications that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is opposed to the bill and rumors that Texas Senator Ted Cruz may also be a “no” vote at the moment. Even before this news, Republicans needed the support of at least nine Senate Democrats to get the bill past a cloture vote. With the absences of McCain and the no votes of Graham and Rounds, that number stands at eleven. If Paul and Cruz join them that puts the number as high as twelve or thirteen.

As things stand, it seems unlikely that Majority Leader McConnell is either prepared to or capable of making the kind of concessions that would bring that many Democrats on board. As Post report linked above notes, nine Democrats who voted for the last Continuing Resolution in December have indicated that they would be a no vote this time around. This includes the ten Democratic Senators up for reelection this year in red states or states that Donald Trump won in 2016, who appear to be standing with most of the rest of the Democratic caucus in opposition to any spending bill that doesn’t address the issue of the extension of the Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The only exception to this rule appears to be West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who has indicated that he would at least vote with Republicans on a cloture vote to allow the bill to advance to a final vote. Even if we get to that point, though, it’s still unclear that the bill can pass the Senate given the fact that there are three Republicans opposed to the bill, meaning that the GOP would be unable to get to the 50 votes it needs to pass the Continuing Resolution with the Vice-President’s tie-breaking vote. Whether that changes in the next twelve hours or so is what we’ll have to wait to fund out.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Incapable.
    Of.
    Governing.

  2. Kathy says:

    They should play brinkmanship on their own time. Why not vote to end debate, then let the bill fail because there aren’t enough GOP votes for it?

  3. al-Ameda says:

    Republican are ready for takeoff.

    It appears that this will be their 3rd shutdown in since 2009. And, really, why wouldn’t they move ahead on this, they’ve learned that there are no negative electoral consequences for engineering a shutdown.

    Perhaps this time will be different? I’m not hopeful.

  4. Gustopher says:

    I would prefer the Democrats agree to a series of 24 hour extensions. Ruin the President’s Mar A Largo vacation #48 rather than shut down government — focus the pain on a single point.

    Maybe 12 hour, or 6 hour extensions.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Oh goody, another round of, “Nobody move or I’ll shoot the n-clang.”

    It’s the Dems’ fault, they won’t vote for any piece of (prefix to “hole”, or perhaps “house”) we set in front of them.’

  6. Just 'nutha ign'int cracker says:

    Wow! And the clock starts again in 20 or so days even if this passes. Paul, Mitch, and the Donald have assembled a really, really great team!! Amazing people! Best ever!

    @Gustopher: 12 hour extensions. I like it.

  7. Slugger says:

    I enjoy these partisan games as much as anyone, but aren’t there some people in high office who can think of a better way to run a country than this? I confess that I am one of those old guys who fills the gas tank on his car when there is about an eight to a quarter of a tank.

  8. KM says:

    @gVOR08:

    Just posted a screed on another thread about how this is depressingly like being in an abusive relationship. It’s always the Dems’ fault – should have tried harder or something. Look what we made them do.

  9. John430 says:

    Lemme see if I got this right…Democrats will shut down the United States government on behalf of illegal aliens? Lesser nations call this a coup.

  10. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @John430:

    Lesser nations

    Trump is the POTUS…there are no lesser nations.

  11. I am Not a Lawyer* says:

    @John430:..Lemme see if I got this right…

    No. You have it wrong.
    The REPUBLICAN PARTY controls both houses of Congress and the leader of the REPUBLICAN PARTY is the REPUBLICAN President of the United States.
    Yet REPUBLICANS are divided against themselves and can not govern.

    Republicans on Trump: ‘We can’t trust the SOB’
    “I’m supposed to work with the son-of-a-bitch because he’s the leader of the party but I can’t stand him,” says a GOP member. “I despise him.”
    The opinion of that one Republican is becoming the norm in Congress. In a private conversation within the GOP cloakroom this week, another Republican said he missed working with Barack Obama.
    “We disagreed on most things but he is a better man,” he said. More than one Republican nodded quietly in agreement.

  12. Mikey says:

    @John430: No. Just no. Don’t even TRY this craven, bullshit spin.

    Trump told Congress if they came to an agreement on DACA, he’d sign it and take the heat. So they did. But when they brought it to him, the Nazi wing of the GOP had gotten to him first, and he blew it all up.

    This is THEIR fault. Democrats were willing to deal, non-Nazi Republicans were willing to deal, but Trump again bowed to his crazy base and now here we are.

  13. John430 says:

    @Mikey: Well, your “Neo-Nazi Republicans” are standing back and watching your crypto-Fascist Dumbocrats crash the economy so illegals can be made more comfortable than American citizens. Whom did you vote for in the last election? Mao or Stalin?

  14. Kathy says:

    @John430: “I voted for Kodos.”

  15. Just 'nutha ign'int cracker says:

    @John430: I prefer to look at it from the perspective that the GOP can’t even get its own majorities to agree to run the government for 30 more days.

  16. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @John430:

    watching your crypto-Fascist Dumbocrats crash the economy so illegals can be made more comfortable than American citizens

    Crash the economy? Huh? More comfortable than American citizens? Huh?
    Someone is off his meds.

  17. Teve tory says:

    If the Republicans hadn’t used up their reconciliation opportunity to try to destroy Obamacare, and failed, they wouldn’t need 60 votes. 50 would do it or even 49 with pence as the tiebreaker. This is a complete failure of a governing party. Shit GOP Senators have admitted part of the problem is they don’t even know what Trump wants in this thing. He’s flip-flopped on it 3 times.

  18. gVOR08 says:

    @KM:
    Via LGM – Murc’s Law:

    Murc’s law, for the uninitiated, is the widespread assumption that only Democrats have any agency or causal influence over American politics. I can now present the definitive example of the genre:
    Tweet from one Doug Harwood: Given the Dems’ weak opposition to the tax bill, and their focus on Russia & Mueller to the exclusion of a political critique of the current regime of energized plutocracy, I’m starting to wonder if they secretly approve and are glad to have someone do the dirty work for them.
    Yes, not only are Democrats responsible for the passage of a law zero Democrats voted for — a few more BLISTERING speeches and Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan would have totally realized that upper-class tax cuts are wrong!

  19. Mikey says:

    @John430: Every word of your comment is bullshit, including “and” and “the.”

  20. al-Ameda says:

    @John430:

    Lemme see if I got this right…Democrats will shut down the United States government on behalf of illegal aliens? Lesser nations call this a coup.

    I’d say that Trump’s installation as President, despite losing the election by 3 million votes, is much more coup-like.

    I completely understand why Republicans want to sell the impending shutdown to the public on the false notion that Democrats are to blame for the failure of the Republican Party to negotiate in good faith with Democrats. Take the bipartisan group who presented their plan to Trump the other day. How did that end? Oh yeah, with Trump defecating on it.

  21. An Interested Party says:

    Lesser nations call this a coup.

    Oh my…drama queen much? Good grief…meanwhile, I believe this will be the first government shutdown to happen while one political party controls all of the federal government…heckuva job, GOP…

  22. John430 says:

    @Mikey: You certainly would know, what with you being an expert on bullshit. Just like your mama

  23. Teve tory says:

    The top hashtag on Twitter worldwide right now is #TrumpShutdown.

    Kinda makes sense, considering Trump’s tweet a few months ago “we need a good shutdown in September to fix big mess!”

    As most of us know by now anytime Trump says something there’s always a trump tweet from the past…

  24. Mikey says:

    @John430: “Your mama?” Wow, that’s so funny! Hahahahahaha…wait, it’s actually not funny, it’s just stupid, like Trump supporters.

  25. george says:

    The shutdown will hurt the GOP just like the last shutdown hurt the Dems. That is, partisans will support their party, but independents will blame the filibustering party. That the particulars are different this time than under Obama won’t matter to most people, since most people don’t give more than ten minutes thought to politics even during an election.

    Most people will see this is standard political hypocrisy – the GOP was for shutdowns while out of power, against them when in power. The Dems were against shutdowns when in power and for them when out of power. Its the sort of thing people look at and then decide not to vote (and 42% didn’t bother voting in 2016).

    That I think the Dems reason for shutting down is better than the GOP’s was is irrelevant; I’m biased. Its what the undecided think that matters, and most of them are going to say there’s no difference between the party’s, and just not vote again. Think about it – the difference between Clinton and Trump was 3%. And there’s this untapped source of 42% out there just getting more cynical about politics.

  26. JohnMcC says:

    Here’s an interesting fact about the shutdown: The IRS is scheduled to begin receiving tax returns Monday. A large percentage of the working poor are very early filers because they treat their refund as an annual bonus. Their ‘bonus’ will be delayed this year because their President gave voice to his racist, no-nothing inner self about DACA recipients. Wonder what share of them voted for him?

    Am I expecting the Democrats to take advantage? You’re joking, right?

  27. Teve tory says:

    So, hypothetically… if you control every branch of power, kill a couple popular programs for no reason, then try unsuccessfully to use them as leverage & end up shutting down your own government… maybe you are bad at governing & shouldn’t.

    Katie Mack

  28. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @george:

    Most people will see this is standard political hypocrisy – the GOP was for shutdowns while out of power, against them when in power. The Dems were against shutdowns when in power and for them when out of power.

    Moreover, they may have a point. It does look like typical political hypocrisy.

  29. Kylopod says:

    @george:

    The shutdown will hurt the GOP just like the last shutdown hurt the Dems.

    There’s no evidence the 2013 shutdown hurt the Dems. Polls at the time showed that the public overwhelmingly blamed the Republicans. It’s true that Republicans did well in the elections the following year, but to cite that as proof that the public actually blamed the Dems for the shutdown is to commit the classic fallacy of Post hoc ergo propter hoc, the notion that if Y follows X, that proves that X caused Y. The shutdown got washed away in the news cycle, and by the time of the election it was no longer on most voters’ minds. There is even a possibility that the GOP would have done better in the 2014 elections if not for the shutdown. Exit polls found 65% of voters “angry/dissatisfied” with GOP leaders in Congress. The reason the GOP took control of the Senate was largely structural: more Democrats were defending seats than Republicans, a result of 2008 having been a strong year for Democrats. (It’s similar to why the GOP lost the Senate in 1986.) But the fact that voters’ feelings about the shutdown wasn’t even asked as a question on any of the exit polls suggests it had fallen off the national radar as an issue.

    The lesson of the 2013 shutdown isn’t that Democrats were hurt by it, but that its political effects were ephemeral and temporary.