Trump threatens government shutdown after Congress makes funding deal
By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS
President Donald Trump is not satisfied with the budget deal Congress made this past weekend and he is threatening a government shutdown. On Tuesday morning, May 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted two posts calling for either changing the filibuster rules in the Senate or a government shutdown so the White House and Congressional Republicans could force a budget without heading to Democrats. Later in the day, Trump backtracked and praised the bill White House Rose Garden at an event honoring the Air Force Academy football team. The threat comes only two days after Congress made a bipartisan deal to fund the government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year aimed at averting a government shutdown on the GOP’s watch.
The disgruntled president took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the Congressional budget deal. Trump wrote in two tweets, “The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good “shutdown” in September to fix mess!”
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan responded to the president’s concerns at a press conference on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning. Ryan commiserated, “Look, we have a long ways to go between now and September, but I share the president’s frustration. I feel good about the wins we got with the administration in this bill.”
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shot down the president’s request to change Senate legislative rules to prevent a filibuster at 60 votes to a simple majority. McConnell replied, “That will not happen.” Continuing, the Senate leader explained, “There is an overwhelming majority on a bipartisan basis not interested in changing the way the Senate operates on the legislative calendar.”
Later, President Trump seemed to have changed his mind about the bill hailing it as a victory. Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, Trump expressed, “After years of partisan bickering and gridlock, this bill is a clear win for the American people.” Continuing the President said, “We brought lawmakers together from both sides of the aisle to deliver a budget that funds the rebuilding of the United States military, makes historic investments in border security and provides health care for our miners and school choice for our disadvantaged children.” Trump also praised the increase in funds allotted for border security, claiming, “We achieved the single largest increase in border security funding in 10 years. So we have more money now for the border than we’ve gotten in 10 years,” Trump said. “The Democrats didn’t tell you that.”
At the White House Daily Press Briefing Trump’s Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney rationalized the President’s first response to the budget deal. Mulvaney explained, “I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try to spike the football and make him look bad. I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take.” The OMB Director did not take a possible government shutdown off the table, saying, “We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats are not going to behave any better than they have the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”
The bipartisan budget deal reached on Sunday evening, April 30, went against President Trump’s wishes in certain key areas. There was no down payment allotted for the proposed border wall with Mexico, an important campaign pledge for the president. Neither did the budget cut funding for Planned Parenthood, something the GOP has wanted to do for a long time. Trump also wanted to cut funding for Obamacare subsidies, the budget will cover them. Sanctuary cities will also remain funded much to the president’s chagrin.
The budget does increase funding to certain key areas. There is a $15 billion increase in military spending, with $1.5 billion going to border security. The National Institute of Health will see a bump of $2 billion in funding. The Environment Protection Agency’s funding remains almost the same, but more funding is going to clean energy and science. Additionally, $68 million goes to New York and Florida to reimburse them for their state spending to protect the president and his family.
The deal also allocates more money to solve some outstanding issues, including miners’ health insurance, Puerto Rico Medicaid, transit infrastructure grants, year-round Pell Grants and fighting the opioid epidemic. There were also funded increases for national disasters in California, West Virginia, Louisiana, and North Carolina. Republicans had to cave in to Democrats’ demands on “poison pills” to avert a government shutdown, which would have been disastrous for the GOP because they control Congress and the White House.
Congress was originally set to shut down on April 29, until they passed a short-term spending bill that lasts until Friday, May 5. The House passed the bill 382–30 on Friday, April 28, the Senate followed suit, and the president signed the bill soon after averting a shutdown with a day left to the deadline. Despite his opposition to the new omnibus bill that will fund the government through September, Trump has no plans to force a shutdown now and intends to sign the bill. A budget fight, however, looms over the 2018 fiscal year, and the government could see another shutdown in October.
Bonnie K. Goodman BA, MLIS (McGill University), is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor. She is a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.