Government to shut down in 48 hours: What to watch

House Republican leaders think they can get the votes for the short-term spending bill, but don't have them yet....

Posted: Jan 18, 2018 2:50 PM
Updated: Jan 18, 2018 2:50 PM

House Republican leaders think they can get the votes for the short-term spending bill, but don't have them yet.

Senate Republican leaders think they can pick off enough Democrats to pass a short-term spending bill, but don't have them yet.

Conservative House members are working with GOP House whips over this plan

On the Senate side, Mitch McConnell might need as many as 14 Democratic votes

Democrats, meanwhile, find themselves digging in even further in opposition to not just the lack of resolution for the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but the overall short-term Republican funding strategy.

Bottom line: there are less than 48 hours until the government shuts down and, well, any one of a number of potential missteps can collapse this process.

And that was before President Donald Trump tweeted that an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program shouldn't be included in the funding bill, a key sweetener that GOP leaders had hoped would gain enough Democratic votes in the Senate.

"CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!" Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

Despite all the other distractions, there are only two questions that matter:

  • Can House Republicans get the votes they need to pass a funding bill without Democrats?
  • Can Senate Republicans pick off enough Democrats to pass a funding bill?

If the answer to those questions is yes, there won't be a government shutdown. If the answer to one or both is no, don't make plans Saturday.

That Trump tweet on CHIP

Trump's tweet on CHIP threw a wrench into negotiations, though its exact effects weren't immediately clear in the moments after its delivery.

A proposal to fund the government until mid-February unveiled by House GOP leaders earlier this week included a six-year reauthorization of CHIP, aimed at winning over key Democratic votes in the Senate (though the extension also had its fans among Republicans in both chambers). Senate GOP leaders will need possibly more than a dozen Democrats to sign on to measure to fund the government based on Senate rules requiring 60 votes to break a filibuster and advance (more on that below).

Trump's own administration on Wednesday said it supported the legislation for a continuing resolution that included CHIP funding.

Not only was the six-year extension of CHIP meant to win Democratic votes, the program is in need of more certainty.

Funding for the program expired at the end of September, and while Congress has cobbled together funding mechanisms to try and keep states covered, the money is hardly the kind of long-lasting solution that many states say they need to keep the program running and provide assurances to low-income families that their children will have health insurance. The program covers roughly 9 million children.

The issues in the House

House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and Rep. Jim Jordan met Wednesday night with Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chief deputy whip, to try and figure out a path forward for the restive conservative bloc. While Meadows said things were progressing, it's an open question what leadership is actually willing to give them -- or if they'll even give them anything at all. Among the issues at play:

  • Specific boosts in defense funding,

  • Commitment to a vote, and support, for the conservative DACA proposal introduced last week

Important note: Meadows is a very close ally of Trump's and noted he'd been speaking to him Wednesday. The White House very clearly supports the short-term spending bill.

Key House indicators

House Republicans leaders were whipping the vote throughout the day Wednesday, so they have a good idea of where they stand and what they need.

Keep an eye on House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, at his midday news conference -- he's got a pretty good poker face on these things, but if he thinks he's in a good place, it'll be pretty apparent.

If House Republicans start scheduling emergency conference meetings, or delay the vote, or start working on any new piece of short-term funding legislation, that's when things are officially going off the rails.

Again, senior GOP aides do not expect this to happen. But they also openly acknowledge there's work to be done.

House Democrats

Democrats are whipping "no" on the bill. This is up to Republicans -- at least until they reach a majority, then expect some Democrats to come over and join them.

One note: The current House Republican whip team is very good. It doesn't mean they'll always get the votes (think health care in March), but they are rarely, if ever, off with their count. And in the last few months they've managed to secure GOP majorities on a series of tough to pass bills, including a short-term funding bill in December.

The safety valve: House Republicans adopted a rule Wednesday night that allows them to bring any bill to the floor, at any time, through January 20. You don't adopt that rule if you think things are on a glide path. Better to be safe than sorry with the high level of uncertainty across the Capitol right now, multiple aides acknowledged.

Over in the Senate, a red flag from inside the room: Senate Democrats, according to multiple sources in the room, reached a new level of anger and frustration during the closed-door lunch Wednesday. It went beyond the lack of DACA resolution, with several senators standing in the meeting to rip how Republicans are handling the short-term spending process in general. The point from several: we have to put a stop to this.

Again, threatening to withhold the votes and actually doing it are two different thing, but according to these sources, Wednesday was a day where withholding the votes really seemed possible.

Where Democrats really stand

Senate Democratic leadership hasn't whipped the short-term funding bill vote yet -- and likely won't until it's clear House Republicans have the votes to pass the measure. Aides say several subgroups of senators have been in contact to try and game out next steps, but nothing has been locked in yet. As we've noted several times, they are in react mode, and given the fickleness of House Republicans, there is little urgency for Democrats to come out with a position until the ballgame is officially in their chamber.

Where Senate Republicans stand

Top Senate GOP aides expect Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to keep his conference together, but the final number is far from a sure thing. Sen. Lindsey Graham has already said he's opposed. Leadership doesn't expect Sen. John McCain back this week. Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee often vote against short-term spending bills. Other Republicans are frustrated in general.

So, while McConnell has a 51-49 majority, he's going to need more than just nine Democrats to get him to the 60 vote threshold he needs to pass any spending bill. Aides are predicting he'll need between 12 and 14. That only makes the job more difficult.

Key indicators in the Senate

There are two smart places to look if you want to see the Democrats who may be in play for McConnell: Those who have tough 2018 races in states won by Trump in 2016, and the 16 who voted "yes" on the short-term spending bill in December.

That said, not every red state Democrat feels the same pressure on this and Democratic aides expect at least three, possibly more, of the 10 Trump-state Democrats up for re-election to vote against a short-term spending bill.

As to the list of those who supported the short-term bill in December? Two -- New Mexico Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich -- came out in opposition to a short term funding bill Wednesday.

When will it be clear how Democrats will position themselves? Nothing will move until the House moves forward on their bill. But conversations will be happening throughout the day today, aides say. This still isn't fully sketched out, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, knows better than anyone there are members who will have to vote "yes" on what McConnell puts up - and he's given them plenty of space to do just that. The question is what the position -- and Schumer's ask -- will be of the rest of his caucus.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501652

Reported Deaths: 10024
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34353540
DeSoto32162408
Hinds31977631
Jackson24508383
Rankin22015390
Lee15596235
Madison14597280
Jones13867243
Forrest13461252
Lauderdale11998317
Lowndes11065188
Lamar10522136
Pearl River9547237
Lafayette8557140
Hancock7740127
Washington7443160
Oktibbeha7147133
Monroe6787178
Warren6706176
Pontotoc6677104
Neshoba6642206
Panola6542131
Marshall6476135
Bolivar6323150
Union605794
Pike5824152
Alcorn5676102
Lincoln5439135
George497479
Scott473098
Tippah470381
Prentiss469182
Leflore4663144
Itawamba4640105
Adams4592119
Tate4592111
Copiah448792
Simpson4448116
Yazoo444887
Wayne440072
Covington429094
Sunflower4240105
Marion4232108
Coahoma4168107
Leake408688
Newton381779
Grenada3711108
Stone360664
Tishomingo360092
Attala331789
Jasper330165
Winston314691
Clay308977
Chickasaw301067
Clarke292594
Calhoun279447
Holmes267987
Smith264150
Yalobusha234547
Tallahatchie228251
Greene219449
Walthall218764
Lawrence213140
Perry205956
Amite205256
Webster203046
Noxubee186840
Montgomery179657
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169338
Tunica160039
Benton149239
Kemper141941
Choctaw133326
Claiborne132837
Humphreys129638
Franklin120328
Quitman106528
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94734
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820312

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148731924
Mobile726221339
Madison52362697
Shelby37640350
Baldwin37266552
Tuscaloosa35120612
Montgomery34123740
Lee23540246
Calhoun22236488
Morgan20958378
Etowah19838500
Marshall18381304
Houston17394412
St. Clair16078339
Cullman15468293
Limestone15354199
Elmore15271286
Lauderdale14323295
Talladega13851283
DeKalb12664261
Walker11221370
Blount10207176
Autauga10048148
Jackson9877184
Coffee9211191
Dale8904185
Colbert8877201
Tallapoosa7093198
Escambia6778134
Covington6715183
Chilton6648162
Russell637559
Franklin5969105
Chambers5612142
Marion5010127
Dallas4979200
Pike4796106
Clarke475884
Geneva4575127
Winston4522103
Lawrence4327117
Bibb425386
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331664
Randolph329864
Butler326796
Pickens316584
Henry312866
Hale311688
Cherokee302960
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245375
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224847
Conecuh186353
Coosa180340
Lowndes175464
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138940
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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