The White House has backed off of President Trump’s threat to shut down the government if a funding bill failed to include money for the border wall with Mexico. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has also said that it won’t demand funding for the wall, at least not right now. This makes a government shutdown at the end of September much less likely, and boosts the odds that House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to pass a short-term “continuing resolution” to fund the government will move forward.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday laid out the likely course of events: “We have to deal with Harvey, we have the debt ceiling, we have a continuing resolution which will be just about a three-month continuing resolution, so you will deal with the wall a little later in the year.”
But the fiscal fight Congress is avoiding this month may just come back around in December, and with a vengeance. By the end of the year, Congress will likely have dealt with many of the issues facing legislators right now, including raising the debt ceiling and providing funds for Hurricane Harvey relief. That will leave the government budget as the main focus of contention as the holidays roll around, and some members of Congress — and possibly President Trump — could welcome the opportunity to join the fight. With big issues like the debt ceiling no longer in play, the budget battle could begin again with renewed energy.
Last week, Rep. Jim Jordan of the House Freedom Caucus said he’d be happy to delay the budget battle until December, at which time a government shutdown will once again be an option: “I’m willing to do it whenever it makes sense,” he told Bloomberg.