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 YarmuthPelosi, Democrats unveil bills to rein in alleged White House abuses of power GOP, White House struggle to unite behind COVID-19 relief House seeks ways to honor John Lewis 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 PelosiDemocratic senator to party: 'A little message discipline wouldn't kill us' Overnight Health Care: New wave of COVID-19 cases builds in US | Florida to lift all coronavirus restrictions on restaurants, bars | Trump stirs questions with 0 drug coupon plan Overnight Defense: Appeals court revives House lawsuit against military funding for border wall | Dems push for limits on transferring military gear to police | Lawmakers ask for IG probe into Pentagon's use of COVID-19 funds MORE (D-Calif.).

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 HoyerHouse to vote on resolution affirming peaceful transition of power On The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Vulnerable Democrats tell Pelosi COVID-19 compromise 'essential' 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 TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE annulled last year.   

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPelosi slams Trump executive order on pre-existing conditions: It 'isn't worth the paper it's signed on' 3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Cruz blocks amended resolution honoring Ginsburg over language about her dying wish 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.”