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To shutdown, or not to shutdown? That, apparently, is our favorite new question. Basically, Republicans have spent the past week hyper-focused on passing their tax bill, and now they have until midnight on Friday (that is, tomorrow) to come up with a spending agreement with Democrats to keep the government from shutting down. And, perhaps appropriately, nobody really knows what's going to happen. In fact, last night, CNN reported that the GOP doesn't really have a plan to avoid a shutdown, and a closed-door meeting between House Republicans didn't do much to ease the tension— or really come up with a game plan to, you know, keep the doors open.
- "Members gave wildly varying accounts of the proposal that's being cobbled together to keep the government open ahead of Friday's shutdown deadline. Most importantly: Do they have the votes to pass a bill? 'I don't know,' said Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania. 'I don't think anyone knows.'"
- "Republicans aren't expected to make any concessions to Democrats, meaning they need as many Republican votes as possible. But for every piece of the puzzle they resolve, there's a group of Republicans unhappy."
- The House is slated to vote on a short-term government funding bill today, but few in Paul Ryan's fragile coalition seem to be happy with the plan as is—including members of the House Freedom Caucus, chaired by our old pal Mark Meadows.
- From Politico: "Freedom Caucus conservatives, meanwhile, are balking at GOP leadership’s plan to temporarily reauthorize the government’s surveillance authority as part of the spending patch. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act divides the conference between libertarians and hawks — and conservatives are loath to support even a short-term patch without a commitment from GOP leaders that certain changes will be made in the future."
- "Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina would not give details on what the group was requesting of leaders on the matter. But Freedom Caucus board member Scott Perry of Pennsylvania said he could be a yes on the stopgap if leadership took FISA out of the CR."
- Democrats aren't totally powerless, meanwhile, because their votes are needed to pass the bill. The Senate needs to notch at least eight Democrats to avoid a shutdown, and those Democrats have the leverage to lobby for things they'd like to see, like protections for youth in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
- Vox explains: "Democrats are racking up a long list of priorities."
- "Democrats have already secured some wins through the budget process. Earlier this year, top Republicans and Democrats came to an agreement on a spending bill for 2017 that nearly half the GOP conference hated. It didn’t fund Trump’s border wall, and it kept out provisions that would defund Planned Parenthood paired with increases in defense and border security funding."
- "Already there are reports that Democrats might concede to a clean budget resolution this time around, and push for their priorities when Congress passes a full spending bill in January. That would go against a lot of commitments they’ve made so far."
- Most media coverage of the back-and-forth seemed to indicate that, rather than reach a long-term spending bill before the holiday recess, Congress will likely approve yet another stopgap measure to keep the doors open until January 19. If that happens, that would allow Congress to avoid a shutdown in the immediate future (aka, tomorrow), but it would just mean a new deadline looms in the future, with no clear sign of resolution between the parties. The one-month punt to mid-January would keep things operational until then, but it wouldn't solve the major policy divisions between the parties, which they eventually will have to confront in some way. Unless, of course, this is just the new normal.