A tedious old ritual with a new twist

For the last 20 years, ever since then speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich shut down the government by refusing to pass funding bills as part of a power play with then president Bill Clinton, we have had basically budget gridlock with the usual process of passing appropriation bills being sidelined and replaced by stop-gap Continuing Resolutions (CR) being passed. The only exceptions seem to be appropriations for the military and tax cuts for the wealthy, both of which seem to have no problems being passed.

The threats of shutdowns are now raised on a regular basis, sometimes several times a year, depending on the length of the time the previous CR specified. But Gingrich suffered for his shutdown and ever since then the two parties have tried to pin the blame for it on the other side. The next deadline for a shutdown is on Friday, December 21. In his meeting with the two Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer yesterday, Trump got baited into declaring that he would be happy to take responsibility for the next shutdown that he said he would order if he did not get more funding for his precious border wall.

Given the very public stances taken at this very testy meeting, it is hard to see what face-saving deal can be arrived at to avoid a shutdown. Stephen Colbert reviewed the ridiculous meeting at which Trump made contradictory statements about the wall and Pelosi taunted Trump that he did not have the votes to pass funding for the wall even in the current Republican majority house. (Thanks to DonDueed for the Colbert link.)


  1. Gops says

    Someone explain me this:

    Why is the President negotiating with two people one of whom is the minority leader (of Senate) both BEFORE and AFTER the deadline for the shutdown and another who will only become the majority leader (of House) a week or two AFTER the deadline?

    Shouldn’t he be working with the MAJORITY leaders, mainly?

  2. Mano Singham says


    As I understand it, this was not supposed to be a negotiating session but more of an informal private meeting between them to discuss things as a prelude to the new Congress taking over. But at the last minute, Trump decided to throw it open to the press and decided to posture about the wall, perhaps thinking that a public spat about the wall would show him in a favorable light.

    The catch is that Trump cannot shut up Pelosi and Schumer the way he can with journalists or members of his own party and he got challenged, goaded, and taunted by them. I think he realized this too late.

  3. Gops says

    I suppose I can see it now. But he still CANNOT pin the shutdown on either of them, right? (Not that he tried!)

  4. Art says

    I’m somewhat disappointed that Nancy Pelosi didn’t, after Trump agreed to take the blame for any shutdown, and all the bickering was caught on camera, that she had no doubt that funding wouldn’t be a problem because someone she has great confidence in has enthusiastically and publicly proclaimed in no uncertain terms that he would have Mexico pay for it. Soooooo … problem solved, ‘have a nice day mister president’, and ‘we will be letting ourselves out now’.

  5. says

    Pelosi’s Big Stand against Trump involved $1.5bn for the wall. Trump wanted $5bn. I want $0. Not thrilled at the way the Dems are “resisting” Trump -- it looks like typical Washington deal-making not resistance. So the Dems have set up Trump to take the blame for a shutdown but they’re already planning how yo cave in.

  6. Jenora Feuer says

    Vox’ take on that meeting (where Pelosi didn’t even know it would be public until on the way there): Trump doesn’t want the wall. He wants a fight about the wall.

    But Trump isn’t offering a deal, and he isn’t constructing the kind of process where anyone might offer him a deal. Instead, he’s looking for a photo op. He’s looking for a clip of himself he can see played, and praised, on Fox & Friends.

    Which is probably understating it; Trump does want the wall.. he just wants a fight about the wall to fire up the base even more.

  7. Mano Singham says

    Art @#5,

    Like you, I don’t know why, whenever Trump brings up his demand for funds to build the wall, Democrats don’t simply say, “You’re the dealmaker who promised you could make Mexico pay for the wall. Just do it.”

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