In October of 2013, we watched as the the divide in policy goals between the Democrats and the Republicans on Capitol Hill made reaching a compromise on the fiscal budget difficult and forced much of the government into a freeze. Now, almost four years later, the clock ticks towards another looming government shutdown.
If Congress cannot agree to a new spending bill by April 28 at midnight – and have President Trump sign the bill – then the federal government will come to a standstill until a compromise can be reached. Despite the severity of the situation, it does not appear that the two sides are coming close to finding common ground on many vital issues. Mick Mulvaney, the white house budget director, has strongly stated that no bill will be agreed upon without a pair of funding actions for Trump’s border wall and a defense spending increase or a significant defunding of the Affordable Care Act.
Even with an impending deadline and pressure from a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, the Democratic leadership doesn’t seem to be budging in the negotiations.
“We believe it would be inappropriate to insist on the inclusion of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed for the Republican majority in control of the Congress to avert a government shutdown so early in President Trump’s administration,” the Senate Democratic leadership team wrote in a letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on March 13.
As the deadline nears, these issues will remain centerfold in the negotiation to avoid a standstill in Washington. Regardless of whether the deadline is made or not, the budget negotiations will not becoming to a close anytime soon. Any passed spending bill will only fund the government through September, leaving Congressional leadership a summer full of intense fiscal bartering and important decisions.