Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown

Lawmakers dismiss fresh fears of another government shutdown

Congress is preparing another stopgap funding measure to avert a shutdown later this month after little progress on spending negotiations, particularly regarding President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE’s border wall.

The preparations for meeting a Nov. 21 deadline come amid increased tensions following Trump’s refusal on Sunday to rule out a shutdown. But key lawmakers said they are skeptical the president would trigger another lapse in funding after the record 35-day shutdown earlier this year yielded little in return for the White House.

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"I don't think there'll be a shutdown," said Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Tulsa to resume search for race massacre mass graves next week GOP senators debate replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday MORE (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, in a local television interview Monday. "We have an initial deadline of the 21st of November, but if we don't hit that then we'll get an extension on top of that.” 

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBattle over reopening schools heats up Pelosi: Trump wearing a mask is 'an admission' that it can stop spread of coronavirus Sunday shows - Spotlight shifts to reopening schools MORE (D-Calif.) also dismissed the likelihood of another shutdown, arguing Republicans would gain little from it.

“I do think that they learned a lesson from the last shutdown since it didn’t do them very well,” Pelosi said in a Bloomberg News interview Friday.

In the partial shutdown that lasted from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25, Trump had sought $5 billion in border wall funding. Congress later agreed to provide only $1.375 billion for a limited set of barriers in the deal that reopened the government.

Still, Trump’s decision to declare a state of emergency in order to shift billions of dollars from existing accounts toward his wall has complicated the latest round of spending negotiations, as Democrats seek to block him from taking similar actions this time around.

Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoSenate GOP hedges on attending Trump's convention amid coronavirus uptick Republicans fear backlash over Trump's threatened veto on Confederate names McConnell makes strong call for masks, saying there should be no stigma MORE (R-W.Va.), whose Appropriations subcommittee oversees funding that would affect the wall, said there has been little progress in identifying a way to satisfy both sides on the issue. 

“The president is standing firm on a $5 billion number at this point,” she said last week.

Congress passed an 8-week stopgap measure in late September to avoid a shutdown on Oct. 1, the first day of the new fiscal year.

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Trump sparked new worries on Sunday when he told reporters he “wouldn’t commit to anything” when asked if he would ensure a government shutdown is avoided later this month. 

"It depends on what the negotiation is," he said. 

Those remarks came less than a week after Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' A renewed emphasis on research and development funding is needed from the government Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs MORE (D-N.Y.) raised the specter of Trump initiating a shutdown to distract from the impeachment inquiry.

”I hope and pray he won't want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment,” Schumer said. “It's very worrisome to me.”

Rep. Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyHouse Democrats push for resuming aid to Palestinians in spending bill House panel approves bill funding WHO, paring back abortion restrictions Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending MORE (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbySenate panel to vote on controversial Trump Fed pick Shelton Finger-pointing, gridlock spark frustration in Senate Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending MORE (R-Ala.) have both indicated that they expect a new stopgap measure to extend into February or March, though they have yet to finalize an agreement.

Another factor is the House’s advancing impeachment inquiry against Trump, which could lead to a Senate trial in the coming months. Shelby has said impeachment and a subsequent trial would likely distract from the business of passing spending bills and necessitate a longer timeline for a stopgap this month. 

But on Thursday, he floated the possibility of a shorter time frame, before the end of December, for passing a continuing resolution. 

“I would like that because we could finish our business,” he said.

One thing lawmakers appear united against is the possibility of a continuing resolution that would keep current funding levels in place through Sept. 30, an option the White House had floated earlier in the year. 

“Our highest priority should be keeping the government functioning and the Defense Department fully funded,” Rep. Kay GrangerNorvell (Kay) Kay GrangerHouse panel approves bill funding WHO, paring back abortion restrictions On The Money: Deficit rises to record .7 trillion amid pandemic: CBO | Democrats sidestep budget deal by seeking 0B in emergency spending | House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS House panel advances spending bill with funding boost to IRS MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, said Monday. 

“We cannot afford to short-change our troops or create unnecessary uncertainty for the Department of Defense,” she added in a joint statement decrying the possibility of a yearlong extension issued alongside Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryRussian bounties revive Trump-GOP foreign policy divide House panel approves 0.5B defense policy bill House Armed Services votes to make Pentagon rename Confederate-named bases in a year MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Steve WomackStephen (Steve) Allen WomackEx-CBO director calls for more than trillion in coronavirus stimulus spending Overnight Defense: Lawmakers tear into Pentagon over .8B for border wall | Dems offer bill to reverse Trump on wall funding | Senators urge UN to restore Iran sanctions Lawmakers trade insults over Trump budget cuts MORE (Ark.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee.

A yearlong continuing resolution would prevent an agreed-upon, multibillion-dollar increase in both defense and domestic funding, and prevent government agencies from embarking on a bevvy of new programs.

When it comes to a potential shutdown, however, Trump is the wild card.

The last shutdown began when he did a last-minute about-face on a spending deal set for a vote in what was then the GOP-controlled House. 

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Democrats seek to tie GOP candidates to Trump, DeVos Texas lawmakers ask HHS to set up field hospital, federal resources in the state MORE (R-Texas) on Monday acknowledged that things this time around could shift toward a shutdown given the importance of the wall to Trump and the pending impeachment.

“I think it's unlikely but, you know, in this political environment I guess anything can happen," he said.

Democrats have pushed their GOP colleagues to negotiate on how the overall set of funds will be split up among the 12 annual spending bills, an issue that cannot be resolved until the wall issue is resolved.

“The critical next step is to complete negotiations on subcommittee allocations, allowing our subcommittee chairs to conference individual bills,” Lowey said last week. “To reach agreement on allocations, Senate Republicans must drop their insistence on funding a wasteful wall at the expense of critical domestic programs.” 

Shelby and Lowey have resumed talks on the allocations, and those talks have escalated to the leadership level.

Pelosi said she was engaged in talks with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCongress pulls punches on Russian bounties firestorm Congress under pressure to provide billions for school openings Hillicon Valley: Facebook considers political ad ban | Senators raise concerns over civil rights audit | Amazon reverses on telling workers to delete TikTok MORE (R-Ky.) over the issues.

“Let’s see what we can get accomplished,” she said on Friday.

Jordain Carney contributed.