Multiple partisan divides in Congress could reach a head in December, culminating in what could potentially result in a government shutdown.
The debate centers around myriad issues, but the main ones that are likely to prove the biggest sticking points involve the border wall, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) subsidies, disaster relief spending, and agency spending raises.
A government shutdown will occur if the must-pass spending legislation isn’t passed by December 8. This would mark the first government shutdown since 2013.
The issue with the spending bill is that, unlike many other pieces of legislation, it requires full bi-partisan cooperation. By requiring 60 votes to pass in the Senate, the Republicans would need at least eight Democrat Senators to sign on to the bill. Considering the hyper-partisan nature of Congress these days, that would prove to be a tough task.
The spending bill also comes at a tumultuous time for the Trump White House. After having faced numerous failures on multiple fronts in terms of fulfilling campaign promises like repealing Obamacare and constructing the border wall, this spending bill represents the last chance that President Donald Trump can fulfill those promises in his first year of office. If he fails to allocate funds towards the border wall and is forced to restore subsidies, that would represent a year without a major legislative victory for the Trump administration.
The government shutdown could be spurred on by a number of diehard positions on both sides. For Democrats, they staunchly oppose allocating $1.6 billion towards building the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. They would also seek a restoration of the subsidies for the poorest Americans to purchase health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.
Democrats are also seeking a restoration of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which expired in September, as well as an extension or reconfiguration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that would allow some 800,000 people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children to have a potential path to citizenship.
As for the Republicans, they seek to remove a cap on defense spending and raise it by $54.0 billion, up from the current cap of $549.0 billion. A dispute also rages concerning the disaster relief funds that were appropriated for areas affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
Some members of Congress want to see cuts in order to fund those relief efforts, while others oppose such measures.
A federal debt limit could also come into play, though that debate may be pushed into early next year by the Treasury Department, which can delay the need for an increase into 2018.
With so many battles coming to the fore, all while the Trump administration is looking to pass its tax plan through Congress, the partisan divide that has already bitterly and substantially divided American may only grow. The government shutdown would just be the latest manifestation of that opposition.
“Congress Is Inching Closer to a Shutdown Over Immigration and Obamacare,” Bloomberg, October 19, 2017.