A shutdown of the federal government is looming. While a shutdown makes for an opportunity to score political points and dramatic political theater, it is unlikely to happen.
What Happens on April 28th?
April 28 is the final day of the current continuing resolution. On that day, non-essential federal offices close. Many of the employees go home and are free to do other things. Based on past experience, they will get paid anyway while Congress decides how to proceed to end the budgeting standoff.
At the moment, Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate are reportedly working on a spending bill that will prevent the shutdown. Even tough there is almost a month to reach agreement on a spending bill, there is a Congressional recess from April 8 through April 23 which limits the time left to resolve the issues on government spending for this fiscal year.
What About the Most Contentious Issues?
Democrats are publicly opposing legislation funding a border wall between Mexico and the United States. President Trump wants to cut $18 billion in domestic discretionary spending and add $30 billion in extra defense funding and $3 billion for border defense. About $1.5 billion of the money for border defense would be for funding a wall along the border with Mexico.
Funding for his border wall is unlikely through this spending bill under consideration. Democrats have indicated they will filibuster in the Senate, even with the result of shutting down the government. There are unlikely to be enough votes to end the political talkathon.
Speaker Ryan has also commented that Republican leadership will not use the government funding bill to defund Planned Parenthood. “We think reconciliation is the tool, because that gets it into law.” In effect, he is suggesting using a separate bill to defund planned parenthood.
The result is that, at this point, the bill to fund the government for the remaining months in fiscal year 2017 will be more of a bipartisan bill.
Most Likely Result
In an interview, House Speaker Paul Ryan said, “We’re not going to have a government shutdown. The president doesn’t want to have a government shutdown. It’s funding from April 28th to September 30th.”
A shutdown is unlikely although politics are unpredictable.
As noted by the House Speaker, the new bill funding the government will last through September 30. That is the end of fiscal year 2017. A new bill would have to be approved for spending starting on October 1st.