Hundred days test: Can Republicans govern?
Can President Donald J. Trump and the Republicans actually govern? As we near the 100th day, the answer has been a loud “no.” So far.
This is Trahant Reports.
This week the Congress and the president will once again try for wins to fund the government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, add extra money for Defense, and begin construction on a wall on the southern border. A nearly impossible order. Why? Because none of this cannot be done without votes from Democrats.
The House of Representatives does not even have a governing coalition. There remains, essentially, three parties: Republicans, Democrats, and the Freedom Caucus. Two of these three groups must work together in order to pass any legislation. And to complicate the politics even more, many of the Republican members are already worried about their own re-election.
Congress must pass a budget extension by April 29 or there will be another government shutdown.
Shutting the government has become too common: On Indigenous People’s Day in 1990 (Ok, back then it was called, Columbus Day) President Bush sent workers home after Congress failed to enact a spending bill. Then during the Clinton years there was a five-day closure in 1995 and another three-week shutdown in 1996. There was a 16-day shutdown in 2013, followed by the double-whammy of sequestration.
Tribal governments were impacted almost immediately and had to suspend nutrition programs, foster care, law enforcement, schools and health care. Some tribes even had to temporarily layoff workers.
A policy report by the National Congress of American Indians put this in perspective: “For many tribes, a majority of tribal governmental services is financed by federal sources. Tribes lack the tax base and lack parity in tax authority to raise revenue to deliver services … many tribes have limited ability to raise substantial new revenue.”
That could be the good old days. The prospect of a serious meltdown is a far greater possibility in 2017 than it was four years ago.
Of course there is a way of out of this mess. The White House could work with Democrats and spend money on their priorities. It’s the basic formula that has led to enactments of budgets in the past 8 years. A likely bargain would mean continued spending for domestic programs as well as add money to the military. The wall? No. Cutting support for Planned Parenthood? Get serious. And health care funding? That’s why it’s called the art of the deal.
There are three doors on the governing stage. Door number one: An impasse and a government shutdown. Door number two: A deal with Democrats. And door number three: A short-term budget extension so the debate can go on. And on. And on.
I am Mark Trahant.