It’s Beginning to Look Like a (Very Long) Shutdown

The Congress adjourned Friday without reaching a deal on federal spending, closing down parts of the federal government. The press likes to call this a “limited” closure because it’s only 320,000 federal employees that are being furloughed (out of some 2 million workers). Another 400,000 workers are “excepted” and will be required to report for work without pay until a spending bill becomes law.

But that’s little consolation to those who work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, Housing and Urban Development, or Commerce, the Internal Revenue Service, or the other federal agencies that are now operating without funding from Congress. (The Environmental Protection Agency says it can operate a few more days on existing funds.)

The Senate Friday barely passed a motion to proceed (the vote of Vice President Mike Pence was required to break a 47-to 47 tie) but there were not enough votes for a spending bill to pass with the $5 billion requested by the White House for a border wall (now called a steel slat barrier).

Members of Congress left town Saturday and were told they would have a 24 hour notice before any votes would be taken. But first there has to be a solution. And none surfaced.

One possible solution would be for the Congress to pass another spending bill without the extra money for the border wall and force the president to veto the measure. Then Republicans would have to choose between a continued shutdown and defying the president with an override. It takes a two-thirds majority in both houses to override a veto.

Some 400,000 federal employees are still required to work without pay and another 320,000 are furloughed. The passed legislation ensures workers receive back pay, but that bill must still be debated by the House.

The president blamed Democrats. “This is our only chance that we’ll ever have, in our opinion, because of the world and the way it breaks out, to get great border security,” Trump said Friday at the White House. He called it a “safety” issue. But Democrats countered that the spending bill already funds an increase of $1.6 billion for border security.