President Trump in the Rose Garden announcing the shutdown. (WhiteHouse.gov)
President Donald J. Trump signed into law late Friday a three-week spending bill to fund about a quarter of government operations. That ended the longest government shutdown in history. But the White House is already talking about another shutdown — unless Democrats on Capitol Hill agree to a $5.7 billion wall.
So now what?
This is Trahant Reports.
The practical takes over this week. Government agencies have a lot to catch up on. Work piling up. Contracts. Phone messages. Decisions. Even collecting garbage. Basically the works. This will take time.
There will be a lot of demand, for example, from tribes and non-profit organizations to get cash flow restarted to pay for self-governance and other contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Service.
As for employees, the White House acting chief of staff, said the government will move quickly to get paychecks out this week.
But what happens next depends on the president. Any deal that results from Congress will likely be the product of a give and take between the Senate and the House. It will not be the president’s demand for a wall or else. So will he shut the government again?
The White House is already saying yes. That started Friday when the president made the announcement about the government reopening. “So let me be very clear,” he said. “We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier. If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on February 15th, again, or I will use powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States … “
That leaves the White House with the option of trying to build a wall using emergency powers instead of an appropriation from Congress.
That could unite Republicans who think the declaration of an emergency is a poor way to govern. And they are not much happier with another shutdown.
Congress has the power of the purse. It can override the president on spending or legislation. That could happen quickly if there is another shutdown fight.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, for example, apologized to federal workers and said she is supporting measures to make certain that it does not happen again. She said: “If there was every any silver lining to this, it was to understand that there was no good reason for a shutdown ever.”
This could also spur legislation, introduced by Sen. Tom Udall, of New Mexico, a Democrat, to protect the revenue to tribes through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service. Essentially taking them out of any shutdown plans.
There could be a wave of support from both Republicans and Democrats looking for a new way to budget, one that excludes the possibility of a shutdown.
I am Mark Trahant