The federal government is poised to shutdown at midnight on April 28 unless Congress can pass a funding bill and send it to President Trump for his signature.
With this deadline looming, Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are working hard with the congressional leadership on a package of FY17 spending bills to fund government operations past the current deadline.
For Republicans, the funding bill provides an opportunity to demonstrate the ability to govern effectively. It also provides a chance to promote Republican priorities. Conversely, because Democratic votes, especially in the Senate, will almost certainly be needed to pass a funding package, it is an opportunity for Democrats to promote their own priorities and secure concessions.
And while it is possible there could be a compromise that would secure funding for an additional week or two (a “clean” short term continuing resolution or “CR”) in order to craft a longer-term deal, there remain a number of politically charged issues that could ensnarl negotiations and hinder a final funding bill.
Democrats are insisting that any spending bill contain funding for cost-sharing Obamacare subsidies. President Trump has already signaled that he intends to use the funding of these subsidies as leverage to force Democrats to the table to negotiate the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, or in the alternative, as a quid pro quo for his own priorities, such as border wall funding.
While Republicans remain harsh critics of Obamacare, many recognize that not renewing these subsidies could lead to more insurers leaving the individual health care insurance markets. Democrats are likely to insist on Obamacare funding, putting President Trump in a difficult position given his efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The Border Wall
The Trump Administration is eager to secure $1.4 billion in funding for the border wall the President promised during the presidential campaign.
However, Democrats – and reportedly some Republicans – are resisting the idea of supporting spending legislation that funds a physical wall. A compromise that could appease both sides could take the form of additional funds for border security that aren’t dedicated to a physical wall.
Director Mick Mulvaney of the White House’s Office of Management & Budget supports provisions that would withhold federal funding from any U.S. city that fails to enforce federal immigration laws, as promised by one President Trump’s first executive orders
Most Democrats and some Republicans are reluctant to withhold these federal funds from nearly 300 cities nationwide. While the issue may unite many Republicans,, it could also singlehandedly drive away Democrats from critical negotiations.
The Trump Administration has indicated a desire to cut nearly $18 billion in federal funding to domestic agencies and increase defense spending by almost $30 billion. While some Democrats support the defense increase, there is wide opposition in their caucus to doing so seemingly at the expense of domestic programs. This funding imbalance could prove another obstacle in negotiations.