The Washington Post reported this week that House Speaker Paul Ryan is determined to pass a spending bill and keep the government open beyond the April 28 deadline.
In a conference call with congressional lawmakers on Saturday, Ryan hinted that it was more important to keep Washington open for business than it was to fund President Trump’s agenda priorities. In other words, Ryan isn’t willing to let fights over healthcare or border security keep the GOP from passing a spending bill.
These priorities may be shared by Republicans in Congress, but it’s not clear how President Trump views them. It’s entirely possible that he will refuse to sign a spending bill that does not match the agenda he campaigned on. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to imagine the Democrats getting on board – even slightly – with a spending bill that funds, for instance, a wall across the Mexican border.
There is a gap, unfortunately, between the agenda most congressional Republicans ran on and the one offered by Donald Trump in his candidacy, and that’s not a situation lawmakers in Washington have much experience dealing with. Usually, the Republican agenda is more or less unified. But while there are plenty of things Republicans and Trump agree on, the border wall is not necessarily one of them. You didn’t see too many congressmen promising their constituents such a thing, so they have little to fear from failure on that particular item.
Ryan said he was committed to devising a bill that would make the president proud. “Wherever we land will be a product the president can and will support,” he reportedly told GOP leaders in the conference call.
Meanwhile, the White House has expressed confidence about avoiding a shutdown…but aides told the Post that Trump would not necessarily sign a bill that did not include funding for the wall.
Asked Friday if it was more important to see Trump’s agenda reflected in the spending bill or for Washington to avoid a federal shutdown, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was noncommittal.
“I think we’ve made it very clear that we want border wall funding,” Spicer said. “We want greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities. We want hiring of immigration agents, and we want $30 billion to infuse the military budget. Those are our priorities.
“That being said, we’ll continue to negotiate and work with the leadership, but no one wants a shutdown, we want to keep it going,” he continued. “We’re working with members on both sides of the aisle in both chambers to find a way forward, but I think we feel confident that that will happen, that we will avoid a shutdown.”
We’ll find out Friday exactly how committed Trump is to his top agenda items and how desperate the GOP is to avoid the political storm that would come with a shutdown.