To Prop Up Trump’s Ego, White House Could Trigger a Government Shutdown

A week from today the media will be filled with analysis of Trump’s first 100 days in office. Not only does he have the lowest first quarter job approval rating of any president in modern history, he doesn’t have much of anything to show for all his bluster.

One way to look at that is to review the promises he made in his Contract With the American Voter. He called it his 100-day action plan to make America great again. Among the executive orders he promised, many of them have either been rolled back, diluted or put on hold by the courts. Among the 10 legislative initiatives he promised to introduce and fight for passage within the first 100 days, only one has been produced (repeal of Obamacare) and it never got off the ground in the House.

Trump and the White House are very aware of this dismal record and are frantic to get something done. In the process, they seem to be setting all of us up for an even bigger disaster.

First of all, they are still delusional about the possibility of repealing Obamacare in the House next week.

Legislative text of a new deal that could revive the House Republican bid to repeal Obamacare is likely to be circulated Friday “or by the weekend,” according to two senior White House officials, with an eye toward holding a House floor vote next Wednesday or Thursday.

But Republican congressional leaders are skeptical the vote can happen so quickly. “The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House and the answer isn’t clear at this time,” said a senior GOP aide. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.”

You can read about this new plan here. Suffice it to say that it is just as disastrous as their previous attempt. The problem is that the House reconvenes on Tuesday and the White House is demanding a vote before Friday. Never mind what is possible in the Senate because none of this is about actually getting a bill to the president.

Administration officials are feeling inordinate pressure to pass the legislation because of Trump’s impatience and fears that his failure to repeal the health care law will dominate coverage of the administration’s first 100 days, which end next week, officials say.

What makes this push for a vote in the House next week even more appalling is that funding for the federal government runs out on Friday and Congress has to pass a spending bill to avoid a shutdown. Leadership has been working on something akin to another continuing resolution that would simply maintain current spending levels. But the White House has intervened because they need something to show for their first 100 days.

The White House, under internal pressure to show legislative achievements ahead of the 100-day mark, is gearing up for a government shutdown fight to secure money for a border wall, more immigration enforcement officers and a bigger military, according to White House and congressional sources familiar with the plan.

It is a risky gambit. With almost uniform Democratic opposition to nearly all of the Trump administration’s spending proposals, the fight could lead to a government shutdown next Friday.

We’ll watch the machinations over these two issues unfold next week. But the point for today is that the Trump White House is broadcasting that they are very well aware of this president’s dismal record and, in response, they are recklessly intervening in Congress with an agenda to prop up his ego rather than thoughtfully handle the business at hand on behalf of the American people. In doing so, they might very well cause a government shutdown. Welcome to the Trump presidency.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.