WASHINGTON — Still reeling from a bruising loss on health care, Republicans return to work after a two-week recess Monday with just five days to whip their fractious caucus into line and avoid a government shutdown.
Funding for the federal government runs out on Friday, which coincidentally marks President Trump’s 100th day in office. Republicans, who control both houses of Congress and the White House, likely need at least a few Democratic votes in the House to pass the spending bill, and will definitely need some Democrats in the Senate to back their plan.
GOP leaders are working on a compromise bill that avoids sparking a Democratic rebellion but also doesn’t alienate Trump, who’s asked for big hikes in defense spending as well as $3 billion for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and other immigration enforcement. Politico recently reported that the White House is doubling down on its border wall request, despite Democrats calling it a “poison pill” they won’t swallow.
“As far as keeping the government open, I want to keep the government open, don’t you agree?” Trump said when asked about the vote in a press conference Thursday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters this week that Trump’s immigration enforcement demands should be debated in the full 2018 budget rather than the planned spending bill, which will likely only fund the government for five months.
“We think that the immigration issue should be discussed in the 2018 budget where there’s votes and discussions — that nothing should shut down people’s votes,” Schumer said. “That would apply to the main immigration issues that are before us, not just the wall.”
In press conferences, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has suggested she would be open to spending on border “technology” and personnel. But she dismissed the wall as impractical.
“If they want to invest in more personnel or more technology or something like that, that might make some sense,” she said in February. “But a wall?”
Republican leaders appeared to be backing away from the wall last month. In March, Sen. Roy Blunt told reporters the president’s funding requests would likely be passed later as a separate bill. Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has also said he plans to pass a “clean” funding bill, suggesting he doesn’t want to add on too many extras that could complicate its passage.
But if Trump continues to demand wall funding, it could change that calculus — setting up next week to be a bitter showdown between the parties as the clock ticks before the shutdown.
In a press conference Thursday, the president did not appear to be spoiling for a fight. “As far as keeping the government open, I want to keep the government open, don’t you agree?” he asked.
But Trump also told reporters Thursday that he wanted the lawmakers to deliver both a spending deal and a new vote on the Obamacare repeal and replace deal next week or the following week,…