From Roll Call:
Moving from unified Republican control to a divided Congress could give Republicans the political cover they need to advance spending legislation that they might have had trouble accepting in December, according to James Wallner, senior fellow of the R Street Institute, a center-right think tank.
“The Democratic majority gives them a way out,” Wallner said. “Leadership will likely go to the most committed to funding the wall and maybe the president and say ‘Look, we can’t win now because the House is never going to pass this.’ And at that point, it will be easier for them to say ‘We have to accept X’ with X being whatever they negotiated behind closed doors.”
Outside of the Capitol Hill calculations about how a final spending deal can be spun to the political advantage of both parties, the real-world effects of a partial government shutdown continue to mount. Some national parks, funded through the Interior Department, are shuttered.
The administration found a way Friday night to pay roughly 42,000 Coast Guard uniformed personnel who were at risk of not receiving their most recent paycheck. The Department of Homeland Security also changed its guidance that originally said the Federal Emergency Management Agency couldn’t renew or issue new flood insurance policies during the shutdown. Both moves followed backlash from members of Congress.
But if the shutdown goes much longer, the federal government will be unable to pay civilian employees at the Agriculture, Commerce, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury departments when the first paychecks of 2019 are slated to go out on Friday, Jan. 11.
Without some sort of spending agreement by then, about 800,000 federal employees who are furloughed or working through the shutdown will likely have to make tough financial decisions.
That doesn’t appear to be dampening Trump’s insistence a final spending deal include border security spending — even if he’s not settled on a dollar amount as seen in dozens of tweets he’s sent since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
He’s repeatedly criticized Pelosi and Schumer for not being at the negotiating table. And in a tweet Tuesday morning, Trump clearly wasn’t a fan of House Democrats’ new plan to reopen the government and punt the border barrier fight until February.
“The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security — and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!” he wrote.
In a tweet later Tuesday, however, Trump seemed open to a deal: “Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?”
R Street’s Wallner said Trump and GOP leaders will ultimately be willing to make a deal at somewhere north of the $1.3 billion the Democrats have proposed but below Trump’s $5 billion wall demand. He said if Senate Republicans really wanted to fight for the $5 billion, they would not have left Washington during the holidays.
“It seems to me that if Republicans actually want to fund the government and fund the wall at the same time, the first step is not to close the Senate,” he said. “And what did they do? They closed the Senate.”