I don't believe we'll actually see a federal government shutdown tonight, but there is a remote possibility of that happening.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has already passed a continuing resolution that funds the government until May and left town for the holidays, but the resolution has not been passed by the Senate yet.
The hold-up is an extension of healthcare benefits for retired miners that House Republicans refused to pass this year. House Republican chose to pass yet another temporary extension of the program and, for their part, Senate Democrat at not pleased with the temporary extension, but they will probably back down before tonight's shutdown deadline.
The spending bill to keep the federal government operating beyond Friday's midnight deadline has been stuck in the Senate as Democrats facing re-election in 2018, including Manchin, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, fight for a one-year extension for the miners' health benefits rather than the temporary fix.
McConnell said the temporary extension is the best lawmakers are going to get, especially since the House has already passed the spending bill and gone home for a three-week holiday.
Senator Joe Manchin has vowed to "win the fight" for benefits for retied miners when Congress returns to Washington, but I'm skeptical. I'm not skeptical that he and other Democrats will try, but Republicans will soon have even less reason to deal with them, not more.
If Congressional Republicans refused to pass an extension of benefits for miners this year, why would they next year? The name of the game next year will be taking away everyone's benefits, not extending them.
Even though the Pentagon blasted the decision to do so, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got his wish of funding the government until May of next year with this continuing resolution which itself is an extension of a continuing resolution passed back in September. The September resolution was an extension of the fiscal 2016 budget. The 2016 budget was an extension of the fiscal 2015 budget. And you get the point.
Congress has not passed a comprehensive budget in years and by funding the government until May with a temporary extension, it will be as if fiscal 2017 never existed. Fiscal 2018 will be the GOP's first opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and it probably isn't going to be pretty.
On the bright side, Republicans won't be able to destroy the country until at least May when the current resolution expires.