How Likely is a Government Shutdown?

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

I may be stepping out on a limb here, but I think it's less likely now than it was just a few weeks ago.

The possibility of a government shutdown is on our collective minds today because Trump threatened to shut down the government next month if he doesn't receive funding for his fantasy border wall, but that's not up to him. Congress has the power to fund the government without Trump's approval and he's done a spectacular job of making enemies out of Republicans in Congress who control both chambers.

For example, the state of relations between Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is apparently far, far worse than I dared imagine.

According to the New York Times, Trump and McConnell haven't spoken for weeks following a phone call between the two that "quickly devolved into a profane shouting match."

In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, and berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.

During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

McConnell is wrong about a lot of things, including his protection of Trump during the 2016 campaign, but he's right about Trump in this case. Trump has no idea how policy is made. He has no idea how Congress works. And he does not understand how bills become law. He isn't interested in learning any of those things, either. Trump doesn't know shit about shit and he doesn't want to know.

Back to the point -- there's no reason to think McConnell would be willing to shut down the federal government just to hand Trump a rhetorical 'win.' Why would he do that while Trump is waging a war against him and several other members of McConnell's caucus? Trump publicly attacked Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) in Arizona last night and on Twitter this morning, and Flake is headed to Kentucky this week for a fundraiser with McConnell.

Speaker Paul Ryan is another story. If any leader in Congress would be willing to roll over for Trump, it would be him, right?

Well, Ryan addressed the press in Oregon this afternoon where he didn't necessarily rule out a shut down, but he did imply that it's not likely.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said on Wednesday that the government shutdown threatened by President Donald Trump is unnecessary and not wanted by lawmakers in Congress.

"I don't think anyone is interested in having a shutdown. I don't think it is in our interests to do so," Ryan told a news conference in Oregon.

Trump already had an opportunity to force this issue earlier this year when Congress funded the federal government for the remainder of fiscal 2017. If he were going to pick a fight over border wall funding, he should have done it then when he still had some semblance of political capital or leverage.

Trump has isolated himself inside in the oval office and on the golf course, made enemies out of almost everyone who actually matters, and burned his capital by allying with Nazis and white supremacists.

We might see the government shut down at midnight on October 1st, but that's over a month away and that's a lot of time for Trump to fuck up even more things. Who knows what he'll say or do over the next five weeks? I don't know, but I know none of it will be good.

  • Draxiar

    The scrum between Mitch and trump for me echoes of the one between The High Sparrow and Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones. In this case trump is the High Sparrow and Mitch is Cersei. Neither are good but I couldn’t help but want Cersei to win to battle between the two so I could then go back to hoping that Cersei lost the next battle.

  • swift_4

    I just had this weird fantasy that MCConnell and Ryan went to the Democrats and said, “So, hey. Let’s stop screwing around and just pass something that will work for people.”

  • muselet

    Compared to Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell—Mitch McConnell, I ask you—is a rational, stabilizing force. The adult in the room, if you will.

    A chill just ran down my spine and the Universe now looks to be about 2º skew-whiff, but it’s true. I agree that a government shutdown is less likely than it was not that long ago. McConnell isn’t going to put his neck on the block just so Trump can claim a victory, especially not on something as inane (and unpopular) as a border wall.

    If Donald Trump weren’t a loudmouthed, tactless ignoramus, the Rs would long since have figured out how to get him what he wants.


    • It’s impossible to keep the “Orange Id from New York” happy. We’ve been trying to tell them that since he announced his candidacy.

      • ninjaf

        If this didn’t have very real consequences for so many people, I would just love to see these guys tear each other down until there is nothing left. They all deserve each other.

        But, hopefully, McConnell’s political instincts will lead him to conclude that it wouldn’t be good for their caucus to have this happen on their watch when we have “united” government currently.

        • Since McConnell issued a statement late yesterday that his relationship with Trump is fine, I’m assuming he still thinks it’s not time to cut bait and run. Let’s hope his political instincts kick in sooner rather than later because we know patriotism alone isn’t enough to turn the GOP against Herr Cheesy Poof.

          • ninjaf

            Especially McConnell’s.

  • I bet Generals Kelly and McMaster are just kicking themselves right now. All that hard work to keep him in check and he keeps going off script. I don’t know what they expected to happen. Past with Trump is definitely prologue.

  • Georgie

    All of this is just so spot on.

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