SPONSORED:

Republicans start bracing for shutdown fight in run-up to election

Senate Republicans are growing concerned that rising tensions between President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money: Inflation jumps at fastest pace since 2008 | Biden 'encouraged' on bipartisan infrastructure deal Overnight Health Care: CDC approves Pfizer vaccine for adolescents aged 12-15 | House moderates signal concerns with Pelosi drug pricing bill | Panel blasts COVID-19 response Biden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure MORE (D-Calif.) could lead to a shutdown fight just weeks before the election and threaten their slim majority in the chamber. 

There is widespread anxiety among GOP senators that Trump’s penchant for picking fights is a political liability as his response to nationwide protests against police brutality appears to be the cause of his declining approval ratings.

Republicans are now worried that he’s likely to pick a fight with Pelosi in September over government funding for the next fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trump and Pelosi’s relationship has only gotten worse since the 35-day government shutdown at the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019. The president regularly refers to her as "Crazy Nancy," and last month Pelosi called him "morbidly obese."

GOP lawmakers say the last thing they need a few weeks before the Nov. 3 election is a spending standoff and possible government shutdown, especially with 23 Republican Senate seats up for reelection and only 12 Democratic seats at stake.

The Senate has yet to pass any of the 12 appropriations bills. In the House, Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyLobbying world Progressives fight for leverage amid ever-slimming majority Biden needs to tear down bureaucratic walls and refocus Middle East programs MORE (D-N.Y.) announced that she intends to hold all subcommittee and full committee markups the weeks of July 6 and July 13.

Some Senate Republicans are discussing moving legislation that would prevent a government shutdown even if the annual appropriations bills haven’t been passed. The GOP senators say they’ve gotten a commitment from GOP leaders for a vote in the coming weeks.

“There’s some of us that would like to get back on that,” Sen. Mike BraunMichael BraunDemocrats accuse GOP of new lows in culture wars Trade representative says policy must protect key industries Schumer waiting for recommendation on Supreme Court expansion MORE (R-Ind.) said after Republicans discussed it at a recent lunch meeting. “It has to do with the general dysfunction that we have here.”

He said Thursday the goal is to “get something in place before” a shutdown scenario arises and “to have it there where you get rid of shutting down the government as a lever that can be used by whoever chooses to do it.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Braun added that there’s strong Republican support for the legislation, but it faces an uphill path to securing support from Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden 'encouraged' by meeting with congressional leaders on infrastructure Republicans welcome the chance to work with Democrats on a bipartisan infrastructure bill Cheney sideshow distracts from important battle over Democrats' partisan voting bill MORE (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats who worry that automatically defaulting to long-term stopgap spending measures could take pressure off Congress to pass new spending bills every year.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap On The Money: Democratic scramble complicates Biden's human infrastructure plan | Progressives push on student debt relief MORE (Vt.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, has previously opposed legislation that would permanently enact appropriations if Congress failed to act or the president vetoed spending legislation.

Some moderate Democrats, however, have expressed support in the past for legislation to prevent future shutdowns.

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerBiden signs executive order to improve federal cybersecurity Overnight Defense: Former Pentagon chief to testify about Capitol riot Wednesday | Senate Intelligence chairman wants Biden to review US Space Command move Wyden: Funding infrastructure with gas tax hike a 'big mistake' MORE (D-Va.) last year introduced the Stop Stupidity Act, which would renew government funding at the same levels as the previous fiscal year, except for the legislative branch and the executive office of the president.

Braun said even if the legislation doesn’t become law, it would at least put Senate Republicans on record opposing a shutdown ahead of an anticipated fight over a stopgap spending measure to keep government agencies operating beyond Sept. 30. 

“If Schumer and/or Pelosi wants to keep that open as an option, I think it will be pretty easy to connect the dots on whose fault it would be if we ever have a government shutdown,” he said.

“To me it would be the biggest thing we could do to at least be able to hold a stronger bargaining position that the government can’t shut down,” he said.

There’s concern among Republicans over which party would get the blame for a shutdown only a few weeks before an election in which Democrats are seen as having a growing chance of capturing the Senate GOP majority.

GOP lawmakers felt burned after the 2018-2019 shutdown, which was provoked by a fight primarily between Trump and Democratic leaders over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanHouse conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill Strengthen CBP regulations to reduce opioid deaths House panel advances bipartisan retirement savings bill MORE (R-Ohio) and a group of Senate Republicans have proposed the End Government Shutdowns Act, which would set up an automatic continuing resolution for any regular appropriations bill or existing stopgap spending measure to keep “the federal government open when negotiations falter before key spending deadlines,” according to an official summary of the proposal. 

Braun said Republican senators hope to merge that with a measure he and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sponsored — the No Budget, No Pay Act — that would require Congress to pass an annual budget and meet appropriations bill deadlines or forgo their own salaries until those goals are met. It passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last year.

“At this point I think there’s going to be unanimity on just jumping on one,” he said, adding it was discussed by members of the Senate Republican Steering Committee among “those of us who want to pick something that we can all go arm-in-arm with.”

ADVERTISEMENT

GOP Sens. Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyOn The Money: Biden says workers can't turn down job and get benefits | Treasury launches state and local aid | Businesses jump into vax push Grassley criticizes Biden's proposal to provide IRS with B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (Iowa), Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesGOP senator urges Biden to withdraw support for COVID vaccine patent waiver Overnight Energy: 5 takeaways from the Colonial Pipeline attack | Colonial aims to 'substantially' restore pipeline operations by end of week | Three questions about Biden's conservation goals House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (Mont.), Mike EnziMichael (Mike) Bradley EnziThe unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the National Shooting Sports Foundation - CDC news on gatherings a step toward normality Lummis adopts 'laser eyes' meme touting Bitcoin MORE (Wyo.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Democrats, GOP agree on one thing: They're skeptical of a deal Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push MORE (Wyo.), Jim RischJim Elroy RischAny reduction in Energy Department's cybersecurity resources a mistake Biden cancels military-funded border wall projects Senate panel greenlights sweeping China policy bill MORE (Idaho), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeHillicon Valley: Global cybersecurity leaders say they feel unprepared for attack | Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan | Senate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech Senate Commerce Committee advances Biden's FTC nominee Lina Khan GOP governor says Republican Party has to allow for differences MORE (Utah) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP Utah county GOP censures Romney over Trump impeachment vote Bottom line MORE (Alaska) have co-sponsored Portman’s bill.

Lee confirmed that government shutdown prevention legislation was discussed at one of the Senate Republican Steering Committee’s recent lunches.

“I like it,” he said. “We’re co-sponsors of several iterations of that.”

“It’s always a concern,” Lee said of a potential shutdown fight in September. “That’s why we need reforms."

“I’d like to take that risk off the table,” he said.