President Trump over the weekend once again refused to rule out a government shutdown come November, opening up the possibility he would not sign a spending measure just weeks from the next deadline.
Trump appeared to dismiss the possibility that he would hold up a spending bill solely due to ongoing impeachment proceedings, cutting off a reporter asking if that could happen by saying “no.” It was unclear exactly what Trump was rejecting, though he went on to clarify he was not ruling out a shutdown. The current continuing resolution will fund agencies only through Nov. 21.
“I wouldn’t commit to anything,” Trump said outside the White House on Sunday when asked if he would rule out a shutdown. “It depends on what the negotiation is.”
Last week, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., raised the possibility that Trump would block any spending measure from moving forward over unrelated issues.
“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment,” Schumer said. He always likes to create diversions. I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment. It’s very worrisome to me.”
Lawmakers already appear resigned to another stopgap appropriations bill. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has said it would take a “miracle” to avoid another CR. Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., Shelby’s counterpart in the House, has expressed a similar sentiment. Lawmakers have said the bill, which would keep agencies funded at their fiscal 2019 levels rather than provide the spending boosts that would result from regular appropriations due to a budget deal Trump signed into law earlier this year, would likely last into early 2020.
The Senate last week easily approved a package of appropriations measures to fund the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Justice and other agencies. The chamber, however, rejected a second “minibus” that included funding for the departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor due to Democratic concerns over funding for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, abortion-related policy riders and other issues.
Even if the Senate were able to advance its own spending bills, it would still have to reconcile them with the House versions. The Democratically controlled lower chamber has approved 10 of the 12 annual appropriations measures, largely along party lines. Lawmakers have indicated the two chambers have yet to agree to allocations for each of the 12 annual spending bills.
“House Democrats refuse to play politics with a government shutdown, and we will pass necessary legislation to keep the federal government up and running,” Lowey said last month.
While there appears to be bipartisan support for another stopgap bill to avoid a shutdown just before Thanksgiving, Trump could still disrupt those plans if he refuses to sign it. The president has repeatedly threatened to do just that as previous deadlines approached. In December of last year, Trump followed through on that threat, leading to the longest shutdown in U.S. history.