House Dems see shutdown as inevitable

House Dems see shutdown as inevitable
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders are bracing for a government shutdown they now consider inevitable, as both parties are digging in over the fate of "Dreamers" and the proper levels of federal spending. 

“It is almost 100 percent likely that the government will shut down for some period of time,” Rep. John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthCiting deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements Dems tee off on Trump budget House Dem opposition mounts to budget deal MORE (D-Ky.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told reporters Friday night after huddling with other party leaders in the office of House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiLawmakers feel pressure on guns Former Pelosi challenger: I have no 'interest in running for leadership again' Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March MORE (D-Calif.).


“Everything we see indicates that there’s no way to avoid a shutdown,” he added. “That was the conclusion of the entire group.”

Rep. Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerCongress punts fight over Dreamers to March Calls mount from Dems to give platform to Trump accusers  Citing deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements MORE (Md.), the Democratic whip, also suggested a shutdown is unavoidable, although both lawmakers expect Congress to quickly enact a short-term spending patch — perhaps between one and five days — to fill the void. 

“We think we can pass something in the next 24 hours,” Hoyer said, emphasizing that it’s still unclear how long the patch will be.

Yarmuth echoed that message. 

“We’ve heard everything from one day, to three days, to five days, to three weeks to four weeks. The president wants four weeks which is not going to happen,” Yarmuth said. “I think probably we can pass [it] by voice vote over here.”

The comments came just hours before the Senate is scheduled for a procedural vote to advance a House-passed bill extending government spending until Feb. 16 — a vote that’s expected to fail in the face of entrenched Democratic opposition.

Despite months of negotiations, the parties have yet to reach an agreement on fiscal 2018 spending — a fight that’s largely centered around the disagreement over whether defense spending should go up more than funding for the rest of the domestic budget, as Republicans are insisting. 

The sides are also at an impasse over the fate of the young immigrants enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA MORE annulled last year.   

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats now attack internet rules they once embraced Schumer: Trump budget would ‘cripple’ gun background checks Schumer: Senate Republicans' silence 'deafening' on guns, Russia MORE (D-N.Y.) met with Trump at the White House on Friday afternoon, but the discussion failed to yield to deal. A glum Schumer returned to the Capitol to report some progress, but lamented that a “good number of disagreements” remain — a discouraging sign in the eyes of his fellow Democrats.

“My sense of it is that we’re way far away from a deal,” Yarmuth said. “I haven’t heard any discussion of any kind of compromise positions.” 

Schumer, boosted by several Republican senators also opposed to the House-passed continuing resolution, is expected to sink Republicans’ bid to advance the spending bill Friday night, all but ensuring the government will technically close its doors at midnight.

The practical implications will be cushioned by the coming weekend, when many government offices will be closed anyway, and it’s unclear which party will suffer the brunt of the political blowback. But the Democrats, pressured by liberal activists and discouraged by the lack of progress on a DACA fix, are taking the risk.

“We feel energized,” Yarmuth said. “We feel we’re waging an important battle for our values.”

Yarmuth urged GOP leaders to work with the Democrats outside the influence of Trump.

“Donald Trump is not capable of carrying out this kind of an intricate conversation about issues —doesn’t have the attention span to do it, doesn’t have the interest to do it,” Yarmuth said. “Let’s do our own deal. He’s so erratic and unpredictable, pass what we can pass. 

“He’ll sign it.”