Congress is fast approaching the December 7th deadline for passing a bill to keep a variety of federal services running. A few basics. No matter what happens over the next week, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other “essential services” will continue; they will be left unaffected. That is the law.
Moreover, when USA Today runs a headline like “Congress Has a Week to Pass a Bill to Keep the Lights On,” and other mainstream media follow, that is pure nonsense. The lights WILL be kept on – as that is an “essential” service.
In fact, the only agencies even affected are those for which regular order bills have not yet been passed. And in these cases, the less urgent elements are what would be affected. To be specific: The President has already signed the Fiscal Year 2019 spending bills for Energy and Water, the Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Also passed have been the Defense and Labor, HHS and Education bills.
So, what remains are parts of seven bills tied to the areas of Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior, Environment; State, Foreign Operations; and Transportation, HUD.
And what is holding these up? Ironically, Democrat opposition to the bills is based on three points: They do not want to give the President five billion for the southern border wall, which is s fraction of a fraction of many of their questionable discretionary funding programs.
Next, they want to mandate that the President cannot fire the Special Prosecutor, which his Acting Attorney General has already pledged not to do, which arguably contravenes executive power and would be an unconstitutional infringement, and in any event is not germane to an appropriations bill.
Finally, the Democrats do not want the single question asked on the 2020 Census, whether someone is a citizen – although this was asked in prior censuses up to a given year. The reasoning for stopping that question is spurious, and already a matter of issue with the courts.
In all events, the President has said he is unafraid of a possible “partial shutdown.” which would actually shut down very little. And yet, if predictions count for anything, the likelihood – since leaders in both parties and both chambers have indicated no interest in a shutdown – is that this is another non-issue.
Reality is that for the next eight days, the media will stoke public fears, crank up public concern, fuss and shout, whisper and pretend they know a process that most do not, and then they will declare the world saved from President Trump, when the fussed-up shutdown does not occur.
They will credit anti-Trump leaders with saving the day, with another short term “continuing resolution,” return to regular order, or a small “omnibus package” (also called a “mini-bus package”). That will be that. They will get back to extolling the Mueller investigation, minimizing the economy’s continuing roar, refreshing the idea of distant recession as Federal Reserve rates gradually return to normal, and predict – with solemnity and near certainty – the end of the year. On that, perhaps we can all agree – and a fairly good one it has been, too!