Congressional Democrats have a lot on their plate between now and the end of the year and their highest priority at the moment is avoiding a government shutdown that could occur as soon as next week.
According to congressional sources who spoke to Bloomberg, Democrats are coalescing around a plan to temporarily fund the government -- again -- until the middle of January because the two sides of Congress cannot agree to a long term measure.
The reasons why they can't agree are familiar and probably won't surprise you.
House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro told reporters that Democrats are willing to strike a deal with Republicans on funding levels and urged them to make a counteroffer to Democratic proposals. Senate Democrats last month proposed a 13% increase to domestic social programs and a 5% increase for defense.
Republicans want equal increases for defense and non-defense, but have so far demanded that Democrats drop a slew of policy provisions known as riders before talks begin. Democrats have proposed ending a ban on federal funding for abortions and rescinding several limits of workplace regulations.
DeLauro said that Democrats will not give those riders up as a pre-requisite to starting talks.
At this point, with the start of the new year marking the beginning of an election year, I have well-founded doubts that the government will be funded on anything but a temporary basis throughout the entire next year.
Even beyond that, if Republicans regain control of Congress next fall we may not see a long term funding deal for the next three years or longer.
That would also be familiar as most of you probably recall that Republicans spent most of President Obama's time in office playing grab-ass with the federal budget. Trump was also forced to deal with Democrats to pass budgets during his time in office because the Republicans who controlled Congress at the time could not agree to anything even among themselves. The Republican party is not a governing party.
I don't necessarily want to think about the possibilities I just mentioned, but they're real. The cyclical nature of politics in America makes all of this depressingly predictable.