Make the most of your Thanksgiving because the political atmosphere in Washington after the holiday is likely to be more strained than any family political discussion over turkey and trimmings. Lawmakers will return from their break with a deadline for a contentious spending deal, or a partial government shutdown, just days away.
Only five of the 12 annual appropriations bills have been passed for the current fiscal year, providing funding for about 75 percent of the government. The remaining federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Homeland Security, are funded through December 7.
President Trump is pressing Republicans to get $5 billion or more for his desired border wall with Mexico, and he hasn’t ruled out a shutdown, Politico’s Burgess Everett reports. GOP members know this is likely their last chance to secure money for the wall before ceding control of the House. Democrats, meanwhile, are eyeing moves to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and to eliminate a citizenship question from the next census.
Neither party wants a shutdown, but neither side wants to budge, Everett writes: “Indeed, though a shutdown would be viewed as poor optics for both sides, backing down might be worse, with each party’s base eager to fight.”
A continuing resolution to fund the remaining parts of the government might be a fallback option, even if congressional leaders prefer to avoid it for now. But a short-term extension to buy time for more negotiations might not be enough. “[I]f the deep ideological rift between the two parties still can’t be bridged, leaders might need to consider a continuing resolution to fund agencies through next September,” Everett notes. “That might be preferable to kicking the fight until January, when House Democrats take over; a spending deadline is not an ideal way to kick off a new majority. But it would result in billions less in spending for domestic programs, a major blow to Democrats' funding priorities.”
In either case, it’s not clear if Trump would sign off on a deal that doesn’t meet his demands for border wall funding. There are political reasons for him to welcome a shutdown fight — and reasons for him to avoid one now and keep the wall funding issue alive as we move toward 2020.
Voters, though, are pretty clear on their preference: 55 percent of registered voters, including 34 percent of Republicans, say increased wall funding isn’t important enough to prompt a shutdown, according to a new Morning Consult/Politico poll — but 49 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of self-identified conservatives say it is worth it. Overall, 26 percent of voters called funding the border wall a “top priority” — the lowest percentage among 10 issues polled.