Just the Facts

Five Facts on The Impending Government Shutdown

By No Labels
December 21, 2018 | Blog

While Congress initially made impressive progress on funding the government, passing several spending bills well before their deadline, 25% of the federal government remains unfunded as chances of a shutdown grow by the hour. Here are five facts on a potential government shutdown:

Capitol Hill has been roiled by uncertainty surrounding potential funding deals

The government has until midnight to pass a spending bill and avoid a partial shutdown. The debate centers around funding for border security, as President Trump has been adamant that he will not accept a bill that does not provide adequate funds for a border wall. On Wednesday evening the Senate passed a stop-gap measure to keep the government open at current funding levels until February 8th. There was initial hope that this measure would receive the support of the House and the White House, putting the government on track to stay open over the holidays. However, it quickly became apparent that President Trump, bolstered by members of the House Freedom Caucus, would not budge on his demand for $5 billion in funding for a border wall, thus making the Senate deal irrelevant.

Shortly after the President announced his opposition to the Senate’s stop-gap bill, the House passed a funding bill with additional money for a border wall and disaster relief

President Trump was quick to praise House Republicans for their vote, tweeting, “Thank you to our GREAT Republican Members of Congress for your VOTE to fund Border Security and the Wall.” However, despite the praise from the president, it is almost certain the bill passed by the House will not have the necessary support in the Senate, as it would require Democratic votes to meet the 60-vote threshold. While President Trump has urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the so-called “nuclear option”, which would lower the required threshold to 50 votes by doing away with the legislative filibuster, McConnell has pushed back against this idea. On Friday morning, a spokesman for McConnell released the following statement: “The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option.”

President Trump and Democratic leaders in Congress have publicly battled over who is to blame for the impending shutdown

In a raucous meeting with Democratic senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the Oval Office last week, President Trump proclaimed that he would be “proud to shut the government down for border security.” However, with only hours left before the deadline, the President has changed his tune, tweeting “If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!”  However, both Schumer and Pelosi have pushed back forcefully against the President’s statements, criticizing the President for opposing the stop-gap measure passed by the Senate. In a tweet Friday morning, Schumer stated “You own the shutdown—your own words, @realDonaldTrump. The Senate UNANIMOUSLY passed a bipartisan solution to avoid a shutdown. Then you threw another temper tantrum and convinced the House to ignore that compromise.”

Lawmakers passed two rounds of 2019 appropriations bills in the fall

In September, the first round of spending bills were passed, authorizing approximately $147 billion in federal funding. The bills will fund the Energy Department, Veterans Affairs, and the legislative branch of government.  The “minibus” spending bill was passed with broad bipartisan support, making it through the Senate with a vote of 92-5 before passing the House by a margin of 377-20. The  second round of appropriations bills, passed in October, fully funded the departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education for the 2019 fiscal year.  It was passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.

Every year, Congress needs to pass a total of 12 spending bills in order to fund 100% of the government

One of Congress’s main functions is to pass spending bills that appropriate billions of dollars to all aspects of the government. Negotiations surrounding these bills are often heated and have led to numerous government shutdowns over the years as lawmakers have been unable to come to agreement.


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