Why a Shutdown Really Could Happen Right Before Christmas

Why a Shutdown Really Could Happen Right Before Christmas

Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS

Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are scheduled to meet with President Trump on Tuesday to resume negotiations over funding for a border wall with Mexico. The talks will set the stage for the following 10 days of posturing, brinksmanship and warngling to avoid a partial government shutdown on December 22. But expectations that the parties will be able to cut a deal are low — “rock bottom,” Politico reports. Axios’ Jonathan Swan reported Sunday that he’d contacted more than a dozen Democrats and Republicans in close touch with leadership. “None were optimistic that Tuesday's meeting could yield a durable deal,” Swan wrote.

Trump is pushing for $5 billion in funding to build a concrete wall. Democrats have put forth two offers, neither of which includes money for a wall: $1.6 billion for border security including “fencing” or a year-long extension for the Department of Homeland Security at last year’s $1.3 billion level. They’ll head into Tuesday’s meeting offering $1.3 billion, The Washington Post’s Erica Werner reports.

Part of the problem in reaching a deal, Politico’s Burgess Everett and Heather Caygle say, is that Democrats simply don’t trust Trump to stick to any promise, pointing to past immigration and border negotiations in which they say Trump reneged on an agreement. “We’ve had limited success in dealing with this president,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told them. “His word isn’t good. Within 48 hours he reverses himself. It’s very difficult to enter into a long-term agreement.”

The Democratic leaders also face pressure from the left that may limit their ability or willingness to compromise on the wall funding, with Pelosi still looking to secure enough votes to win the House speakership. Trump, meanwhile, has little leverage, especially since lawmakers in his own party have no appetite for a shutdown — but he has said that this would be a good time for a shutdown and that he sees that wall issue as a political winner.

Swan’s sources suggest two scenarios for how the standoff could play out: another short-term funding deal that pushes the stalemate into next year or a partial shutdown with no clear path to reopening the government.