Are we headed for a Hanukkah government shutdown? If Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill—requiring eight Democratic votes in the Senate—by midnight on December 15, the federal government will shut down. Thanks to Donald Trump, though, the list of legislative priorities that must be resolved just keeps growing:
Once Obamacare repeal failed, the only major item on Republicans’ agenda for the rest of the year was supposed to be tax reform. But then Trump announced his administration planned to sunset the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, putting upward of 600,000 unauthorized immigrants in limbo; and that it would end the Affordable Care Act’s subsidy payments, a move that will increase premiums for Americans and dig a deeper hole in the national deficit. Trump is forcing Congress’s hand to act, but he hasn’t given a clear or realistic policy directive on immigration or health care.
Congress also keeps putting off negotiations on key policies, like the now-expired federal Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Democrats aren’t going to give up the leverage they have. Republican hostage-taking doesn’t make Democratic priorities like protections for Dreamers or health insurance for kids less important, and, of course, there’s the Trump factor:
… as with all bills, the final say on the budget is Trump’s. He has to decide whether he will sign anything short of his campaign demands. And it seems he has been less concerned with the prospect of a government shutdown than Republicans leaders are.
Rather, he has raised the stakes of shutdown by throwing so many policy deadlines on immigration and health care to Congress.
It’s times like this when you remember that Trump managed to go bankrupt repeatedly in the casino business.