- Government funding expires on February 15, potentially setting up another partial government shutdown.
- A bipartisan, bicameral conference committee is drafting a border security plan before the deadline.
- It is still unclear what President Trump is going to do, which could lead to another high stakes showdown in Washington.
WASHINGTON – Government funding from the short-term continuing resolution that stopped the record 35-day partial shutdown comes to an end next Friday, February 15.
But even as lawmakers on the bipartisan, bicameral conference committee created to cobble together a border security proposal work to avert another partial government shutdown, a heavy cloud of uncertainty remains as the deadline draws near.
The conference committee originally planned to have its proposal ready Friday, but might require a few days more to fine-tune its work.
Republicans have suggested they are looking to compromise, while Democrats both in leadership and on the conference committee have been all over the place about the one issue at stake: whether or not the final product will include at least some funding for President Donald Trump’s desired border wall.
Democrats have publicly stated they believe Republicans are not ready to go through the headache and political whipping that resulted from the last shutdown, which lasted 35 days. Privately, they are fretting that Trump will be stubborn and send Washington into chaos again, according to multiple aides.
Republicans on the other hand, have remained cautiously optimistic and focused on what Congress is doing, not the president. A group of members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus met with Trump on Thursday, signalling a more hardline stance in the coming weeks.
“There could be. I hear they’re working on something. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters on Thursday when asked if he would accept the conference committee’s proposal. “But I certainly hear that they’re working on something. And both sides are moving along. We’ll see what happens. We need border security. We have to have it. It’s not an option. Let’s see what happens.”
Trump making an emergency declaration could prompt loads of legal challenges
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a Friday press conference he does not envision a scenario in which Republicans would join Democrats in a disapproval resolution regarding an emergency declaration.
“I don’t think anyone questions his legal authority to declare a national emergency,” McCarthy added.
But many Republicans, including Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, have questioned the legal authority of such action. Others, like House Armed Services Ranking Member Mac Thornberry, have lamented to redirection of defence funds for what he characterised as “nondefense purposes.”
Other lawmakers are confident the courts would block Trump from such a move in the event he declared a national emergency.
“If he doesn’t get what he wants, he has that option to declare an emergency,” Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar told INSIDER on Tuesday. “But again, I’ve always said if the fire department sees a fire, that’s an emergency and rush to it. They don’t say, ‘Hey, let me look at it. I’ll think about it’ and then in two, three, four, or five months declare an emergency. So I think any judge – any reasonable judge – will look at that and declare it unconstitutional.”
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