Congressional leaders are working to avoid a federal government shut down and find ways to fund the government by midnight on September 30th.
The US Federal government has already shut down twice under a Republican-controlled government — once in January and again, briefly, in February — but this deadline comes less than two months before the highly anticipated midterm Election Day, where Democrats are looking to flip control of the House, and possibly even the Senate.
Congressional leaders say they have a plan to fund 87% of the government and then pass stop-gap funding measures to push negotiations over the more contentious funding battles, such as Trump’s border wall, until after the midterm elections.
The Senate has passed nine appropriations bills, but the House and Senate only agree on three. Negotiations continue on the other six. It is not uncommon for spending negotiations to go until the last minute. But even if Congress manages to get its act together on time, Trump has already threatened to veto the spending bills altogether and shut down the government on his own.
Republican leaders have said they are confident they have persuaded President Trump to sign a trio of spending bills and other spending packages and put off a fight over border-wall funding until after the midterm elections.
According to several experts, the Trump administration thinks government shutdowns are a “great political issue”. President Trump has also made aggressive immigration demands on everything from an overhaul of the legal immigration system to fully funding the border wall. Congress is expected to pass the first bundle of spending bills this week, which the White House has said Trump will sign.
Stan Collender, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University, sees a 60% chance of a partial government shutdown. He says, “Trump still may shut down the government, but Republican leaders are calling his bluff. Clearly congressional leaders don't want a shutdown—it's bad for their members who are running for re-election. If they don't send a package to president Trump to sign, there’s no chance the government will stay open.”
Meanwhile, Congress is doing nothing to meet Trump’s policy demands. Instead, Republican leaders have been pleading with Trump to sign whatever spending bill they put on his desk, arguing a shutdown could hurt their chances in November even more.
Still, by passing the package this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan hope to give the president plenty of time to sign it and avoid any last-minute drama.