Over the next several months, Republicans will have to figure out how to cut deals with Democrats to avoid a default on the national debt and avert a government shutdown, among several other must-pass items. But the negotiations will unfold against the acrimony of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort and a bruising fight over tax reform, none of which is likely to inspire trust between the two sides.
Though Congress avoided a government closure this month — a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment for an institution otherwise devoid of any this year — a quintet of critical deadlines in the early fall will force either a furious round of deal-making or brinkmanship that could have dire effects on the economy. It will be a major test of Trump and the all-GOP Congress’ ability to govern, who are bound to be blamed for any problems given their dominant political position.
By most accounts, Congress is not ready for the impending crunch; Trump even seemed to welcome a crisis with his tweet last week that the country “needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.”
A new government funding bill is due by the end of September, and Republicans are behind schedule on producing a budget that lays out their spending plans. The debt ceiling will likely need to be raised around that time, a vital exercise that an all-GOP Washington hasn’t executed for more than a decade. Democrats are eager to extract leverage at every opportunity given their minority status. At least eight Democratic votes in the Senate will be needed to pass a funding bill and, most likely, increase the debt ceiling.