Confused Trump Confuses Washington About GOP Strategy for Avoiding a Government Shutdown

Friday, 19 Jan, 2018

While House Republicans are coalescing behind a short-term government funding bill to avert a shutdown on Friday, it's not certain to pass. Freedom Caucus Chair Mark Meadows said late Tuesday that Republicans don't have the votes.

The government will shut down if Congress is unable to pass a funding measure by Friday, but Democrats are confident Republicans will bear the wrath of voters if that happens.

Democrats are demanding a deal on legislation to offer protection from deportation to younger immigrants who were brought to the country as children and now are here illegally as a prerequisite for any longer-term government funding agreement.

It was during Oval Office negotiations over a potential DACA replacement last week that, in the course of dismissing one deal negotiated by Senate Democrats and Republicans, Trump used a vulgar word to describe African countries and wondered why the USA doesn't get more immigrants from places like Norway. If Democrats vote against it, they'll also be voting against a program that provides low-income children with health insurance - a troubling vote, especially for the vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in red states.

However, the Republican proposal could also face opposition among their own hardline rank-and-file in the House.

House Republicans revealed their strategy for the stopgap funding bill during a GOP conference meeting Tuesday night, and they plan to whip support for the measure throughout the day Wednesday. Those are the estimated 3 million young immigrants who were brought to the USA illegally as children. They were protected from deportation by an Obama-era program that President Donald Trump rescinded a year ago.

"The one thing standing in our way is the unrelenting flow of chaos on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue (the White House)". In the Senate, a senior Democratic aide tells NBC News that they have the votes to block it.

The president ended DACA, a 2012 program created by President Obama, in September and has given Congress until March 5 to figure out a legislative solution.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump caused confusion over the bill when he tweeted that the CHIP extension should not be included in a short-term measure, throwing the whole effort into doubt.

But Trump rejected a bipartisan bill last Thursday, one that senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Graham helped craft.

Even if the GOP secures enough votes in the upper chamber for the bill, its fate in the Senate, where 60 votes are required to advance the legislation to a final vote, is much more uncertain.

"He (Trump) is anxious that Democrats' unwillingness to actually put country ahead of their party is what's stalling things from moving forward, whether it's the budget or whether it's a deal on DACA", Sanders said. "The problem is really in the Senate", Smith said. "I'm just going to work and work and work to keep the government open", West Virginia Democratic Sen.

"I am optimistic that we can begin 2018 with a bipartisan, two-year funding agreement that meets several critically-important objectives", McConnell said at the beginning of the new year. In a tweet, he said he no longer wanted CHIP to be a part of the deal.

A divided Republican caucus scrambled Wednesday to unify ahead of yet another looming government shutdown that could cost the USA billions of dollars each day it goes on without resolution.

'We do support the short-term CR, ' White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters, referring to the so-called continuing resolution. And Republicans have their own interest in making sure a lapse in government funding doesn't occur, particularly when they control all the levers of government.

GOP Senators Tom Cotton (Ark.) and David Perdue (Ga.), both of whom attended the meeting, have said they did not hear the president make the remarks.

"The overwhelming number in our caucus have said they don't like this deal and they believe if we kick the can down the road this time we'll be back where we started from next time", Schumer said. It's unclear how a government shutdown would affect either party in this year's midterm elections in November.

The Freedom Caucus has been seeking concessions from GOP leadership in exchange for their support on the CR, including more money for defense and a promise that a conservative immigration bill will be brought to the House floor.