“Do we succumb to tyranny of radio talk show hosts? We have two talk radio hosts who influenced the President — that’s tyranny, isn’t it?
Strong words from Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) during the Senate session this morning as legislatures debate the spending bill approved last night in the House that contains $5 billion for building President Trump’s border wall. The Senate had originally passed a temporary funding measure that would fund key government agencies through February. President Trump had initially agreed to sign the measure without the wall funding but reversed his decision on Wednesday.
Why the Reversal?
That morning, hosts of the show “Fox and Friends” expressed dismay and disbelief at Trump’s willingness to sign the spending measure without the border wall funding. “What a stunning turn of events,” co-host Steve Doocy said.
His fellow co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked if Trump’s agreement was a “win for Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer,” to which Doocy replied “yes,” before she could finish the question.
“People who voted for him and want the wall and went to the polls to vote for that wall, they want to know how he’s going to do this and they want to know why he seems to be softening his stance this morning,” Earhardt said.
Later that day, Trump reversed his decision, meeting with House Republicans and announcing that he would not agree to sign the funding measure without money for the wall.
In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death. We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 19, 2018
On Thursday night, the House passed a funding measure that included $5 billion for the border wall. The measure now goes back to the Senate, where it is less likely to pass.
President Trump warned on Friday morning that there now is a “very good” chance of a partial government shutdown. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) agreed, saying,
“there are not the votes in the Senate for an expensive, taxpayer-funded border wall. President Trump, you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting your wall today, next week, or Jan 3.”
The Nuclear Option
Trump has urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the so-called “nuclear option,” which allows the Senate to vote to change the chamber’s rules in order to break a filibuster by the minority intended to delay or block a measure they don’t like.
Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done! Our Country is counting on you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
Changing the Senate’s rules would allow the bill to pass with a simple majority, rather than the currently required two-thirds majority. However, achieving that isn’t as easy as it sounds. And, even if the “nuclear option” is used, passing the spending bill would still require 60 votes.
That’s something Senator McConnell doesn’t believe Republicans have. Earlier today, his spokesperson, David Popp issued a statement saying,
“The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option. Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road.”
With Republican Senator Jeff Flake voting not to proceed with the House’s stop-gap measure, and others likely to join him, it seems a shutdown is now likely.
What Happens in a Shutdown?
Congress has until midnight Friday night to approve a stopgap measure or pass individual spending measures that will fund seven federal agencies. Without it, more than 420,000 federal employees will be expected to work without pay through the holidays and beyond.
That number includes Customs and Border Protection agents, Transportation Security Administration employees, the majority of Department of Homeland Security employees, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Additionally, 3,600 National Weather Service forecasters and up to 5,000 Forest Service firefighters will be expected to work without paychecks.
More than 380,000 federal employees would also be placed on furlough or temporary leave without pay. That number includes 92 percent of NASA employees, 52,000 from the IRS, 7,100 from Housing and Urban Development, thirty percent from the Transportation Department, and more than 44,000 Forest and National Park Services employees.
It’s likely that with many workers furloughed, national parks across the country would close, costing many states that rely on those parks for revenue. Housing authorities across the U.S. could see delays in processing loans and approvals.
The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Friday that it “will remain open for a limited number of days,” but it’s unclear how many, or whether it will be able to outlast the “very long” shutdown that Trump is predicting.