How Trump Could Escape the Shutdown Trap

How Trump Could Escape the Shutdown Trap

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Congress left town Thursday for a five-day weekend with no clear plans for how to avoid a partial government shutdown next week. Democrats said they were waiting for Republicans to make a move, Politico reported, while Republicans said they were waiting to hear from President Trump.

“There is no discernable plan. None that’s been disclosed. Everybody’s looking to [Trump] for a signal about what he wants to do. So far, it’s not clear,” Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn said Thursday.  

On Friday, however, reports emerged that President Trump may be looking for a way out of the stalemate he helped create when he announced that he would welcome a government shutdown next Friday.

The plan: Trump is reportedly considering a short-term spending bill that would push the fight over the border wall into January. The two-week funding package would keep the government open through the holidays, and perhaps longer for some departments.    

The upside for Trump: The president would avoid a holiday shutdown, for which he would clearly take the blame, while spending a long holiday in Florida. As an added bonus, a border wall fight in early January would give Trump the opportunity to disrupt Democrats as they open Congress with a House majority for the first time in years.

Bloomberg’s Sahil Kapur summarized the argument in favor of passing a short-term continuing resolution, or CR, on Twitter: “It's 4 days before Christmas; who wants to hang in DC? Can't shut it down and skip town. And for what? No endgame. Plus Ryan is leaving; if he puts up a short-term CR it'd pass House + then Senate. Trump could talk himself into fighting later.”

Politico put it this way: “MAKE NO MISTAKE: This would be a fold from the president, and would be read as such by his base on Capitol Hill. The White House would try to sell it as a victory, of sorts, heading into the holiday. IT WOULD, HOWEVER, BE a recognition that the math simply isn't there for Trump as he pushes for a $5-billion border wall.”