Last week President Donald Trump reminded Congress of a promise that he made them after the last budget battle. He reiterated that he will never again sign another government wide trillion dollar plus spending package that stands over a foot tall as he did back in March.
This is a stark rebuke and warning to both parties. Either they will get their proverbial act together before sending the next budget to the Oval Office, or another government shutdown looms in the cards.
You would think that the two constantly warring parties would not wish to take the country back to the edge of the black abyss again. One good sign is that both Republicans and Democrats in Congress nowadays concur on the sensibility of handling the daily funding operations of government as they used to do.
This was consistently done through weeks of open and honest debate with amendments that permit the regular members to participate and have their say. It removed the built-up budget wheeling and dealing power from the hands of only a couple of leaders at the top who have been holding lengthy closed-door, highly secretive meetings on the final budget.
The only problem is that there is a huge dysfunction up on Capitol Hill any more. The budget year begins anew on October 1st. Analysts now predict with reasonable certainty that the 12 needed spending bills will not make it to the Presidential desk in time to meet the deadline by a long shot.
This leads to another massive spending omnibus bill arising once again. We’ve been here before and all too recently too. Ironically this time, Congress may literally shoot themselves in the proverbial foot. They could end up with a hard core government shut down only one month before the November 6th midterm elections.
There is much at stake for both parties as they are battling it out to control the House and maybe the Senate as well. President Trump’s agenda revolves around getting enough money to finish building his long promised and much-touted border wall facing Mexico.
As the President reminded us all recently: “We need the wall. We’re going to have it all. And again, that wall has started. We got $1.6 billion. We come up again (in) September. If we don’t get border security, we’ll have no choice. We’ll close down the country because we need border security.”
The President is deadly serious about this. He nearly did not sign the last $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill back in March. Congress should take his promise to never do that again very seriously. Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had his Congressional forces back a two year budget deal that limits the spending in both fiscal years 2018 and 2019 to $1.3 trillion each year.
Yet there are too many ways that we could end up yet with another drawn out and even seriously damaging government shutdown. Floor debates could force debates on divisive issues like the President’s border wall, immigration issues, gun control, and more. Democrats are afraid that the Republican party will attempt to force through another large Pentagon military spending bill rather than simultaneously deal with their beloved pet agencies’ funding needs.
On top of this, the President has the power to blow the entire effort away at whim. He has a tendency to Twitter tantrum about government shutdowns at critical moments and when he goes off script in many public forums. In the end, he often caves at last when the spending bills land on his desk.
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