The specific issue that will trigger yet another federal government shutdown showdown this September will be Donald Trump’s seemingly pathological obsession with building a wall between the United States and Mexico.
Trump wants $25 billion to fully fund it, the GOP-controlled Congress so far has refused multiple times to provide it and the two sides are going to face off again about it in September when, because of the very slow action on the fiscal 2019 appropriations, a continuing resolution will be needed to keep the government operating.
Trump so far has backed down every time he previously threatened to shut the government over this issue. All it took was a vague promise by the Republican leadership that full funding for his wall would be considered next time or pressure from within his own administration to sign a bill without the funds to get the president to go along.
That’s why the common political wisdom is that Trump will back down again given that he so far has been the anti Teddy Roosevelt by speaking loudly but carrying a small stick.
And with the current GOP House and Senate majorities at risk, the White House theoretically shouldn’t want to keep the Republican representatives and senators running for reelection in Washington when they could be home campaigning and holding fundraisers. After all, much of Trump’s political success will depend on continued Republican majorities in both houses of Congress.
But there are 4 main reasons why what happens with Trump and the shutdown this time could be very different from what has come before.
First, Trump may see this as his last opportunity to get funding for his wall. If the Democrats win the majority this November, the chances of the wall being funded over the next two years will be close to zero.
The common political wisdom is that Trump will back down again given that he so far has been the anti Teddy Roosevelt by speaking loudly but carrying a small stick.
Second, a Trump-induced shutdown this September over full funding for the wall may be perceived by the White House as the best immigration issue to inflame his base just before the midterm election and, therefore, counter the enthusiasm gap about voting between Democrats and Republicans. If higher Trump-voter enthusiasm translates into continuing GOP House and Senate majorities, this year won’t be the last chance to get funding for the wall.