Exactly one year after Donald Trump’s inauguration, President Dealmaker is presiding over the first government shutdown since 2013. Democrats and Republicans were, by many accounts, close to cobbling together a last-minute, short-term deal on Friday. But Trump’s hard-line advisers steered the impressionable president away from an agreement that would protect Dreamers from deportation, and almost all Democrats refused to cave when the Senate voted before the midnight-shutdown deadline. So now it’s blame-game time, with Democrats panning the “Trump Shutdown” and Republicans denouncing the “Schumer Shutdown.” (#TrumpShutdown has already won Saturday’s hashtag war.)
The conventional wisdom is that one side will fold and the crisis won’t last very long — but that’s what they said about World War I. Below, live updates on the state of the stalemate:
No Closer to Ending the Shutdown
Democrats and Republicans appear to have made no progress toward ending the federal-government shutdown on Saturday, unless you count persistence at blaming each other. As of Saturday evening, the position of both sides remained: “No, you cave.” For Republicans, that means insisting they won’t negotiate demands with Democrats until after they help reopen the government; for Democrats, that means insisting they won’t help reopen the government until after they’ve negotiated with Republicans.
A vote to end the shutdown in the Senate is being planned by GOP leaders for early Monday at the latest, but Democrats say they can block it.
In the meantime, the purportedly nonchalant White House is characteristically insisting that its shutdown is going to be the best shutdown, or at least better than the one GOP lawmakers forced upon the Obama administration in 2013. On Friday, Trump administration budget director Mick Mulvaney — who helped lead the hard-right, anti-Obamacare faction in Congress that pressed for the 2013 shutdown — accused President Obama of “weaponizing” that shutdown for political reasons. This time, according to Mulvaney, federal agencies will be empowered to use existing unused funds to remain as open as possible for as long as possible. Mulvaney also suggested that the Trump administration — which is attempting to shrink the government as much as it can, impressing no one with its management of federal agencies — was doing it for the workers.
Whatever spin the White House comes up with, or whether they are able to keep public-facing institutions like national parks open or not, many if not most of the hundreds of thousands of government employees who would normally be furloughed during a shutdown will still be furloughed during this one, particularly if the shutdown lasts a long time.
Trump Will Indeed Miss His Party
Thanks to the shutdown, President Trump will not attend a big-bucks fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday night that was going to double as a party to celebrate the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Trump had reportedly been worried that this would happen, not wanting the shutdown to interfere with “my party.” The party — which donors paid as much as $250,000 to attend — will now go on without him. Trump’s son Eric will take over hosting duties while the president sticks around the White House.
The Mueller Investigation Isn’t Part of the Shutdown
Just in case you were wondering, the government shutdown should not have an impact on special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. That investigation is funded by a permanent indefinite appropriation rather than the annual appropriation that Congress currently can’t agree on, so both Mueller and his employees will continue to go about their work.
The Sign of a Government That Cares
Congress Finally Gets Down to Important Business
New Trump Ad: Democrats Are Basically Murderers
Looks like the White House is definitely negotiating in good faith!
CDC Was Unprepared for Shutdown
As of Friday afternoon, CDC officials hadn’t received any official guidance on how to respond to the shutdown. Vox reports that CDC staffers first received an email from the acting secretary of Health and Human Services telling them that the agency was “working to update our contingency plans.” Then, six hours before the shutdown, staffers were told whether or not they would be furloughed and asked to prepare for the possibility that the government would stop running.
Anonymous staffers have expressed alarm at the lack of communication and the fact that there doesn’t seem to have been any kind of plan in place. “The fact we’re getting no guidance is symptomatic of the dysfunctionality of this entire [administration],” one CDC staff member told Vox.
To their point, the last-minute confusion was apparently avoided ahead of the 2013 shutdown, when employees were informed of their furlough status as much as five days ahead of time.
About 50 percent of HHS staff will likely be furloughed this time around, and the CDC will only be allowed to keep less than 40 percent of its staff.
Late Friday, the CDC did decide not to stop tracking flu cases. The influenza-surveillance program, which tracks and issues weekly reports on the flu season’s progress, was halted during the 2013 shutdown but will only be slowed down during this shutdown because of this year’s particularly dangerous outbreak. At least 30 children have already been killed by the virus in the U.S. this season.
Report: Trump Annoying Everyone With Incompetence, Indecisiveness
A thorough Washington Post story in the “how we got here” genre makes it painfully clear that President Trump’s failure to articulate what he actually wants is a leading factor in the government shutdown. The fact that he doesn’t understand any of the policy involved isn’t helping.
The piece documents the many recent instances in which Trump has made life unnecessarily difficult for his own party — like when he tweeted that the Children’s Health Insurance Program shouldn’t be funded in a short-term spending plan, then immediately agreed with Mitch McConnell during a phone call that it should be.
One previously unreported anecdote stands out: After his reality-show-style bipartisan immigration meeting two weeks ago, Trump’s advisers presented him with a list of White House spending demands, which included hard-line immigration proposals like $18 billion in funding for a border wall. But, according to one lawmaker, “Trump complained that the document didn’t represent all of his positions, that he wasn’t familiar with its contents and that he didn’t appreciate being caught off-guard. He instructed the group to disregard the summary and move on.”
This is almost certainly the first government shutdown in which the president isn’t really running the government.
Will Trump Have to Get His Own Diet Coke?
Most White House officials will be working as usual during the shutdown, since they perform what are considered essential duties. But nearly 400 White House aides won’t be able to come to work, likely creating extra work for their superiors. That possibility has been on the minds of some senior White House officials who, according to Politico, had been “hoping for an excuse to turn off their government phones and stop replying to emails for a few days,” only to express “some resignation upon learning that their work day burdens will likely increase while the government is closed.”
More important, it’s not clear if President Trump’s famous Diet Coke button will work for him during the shutdown. Alyssa Mastromonaco, a former deputy chief of staff for the Obama administration, told Politico that during the 2013 shutdown, there were no assistants or support staff, limited food, and she often found herself doing basic janitorial duties. Perhaps the president’s Diet-Coke butler can be classified as an essential staffer?
The Duel of the Sandwich Boards
During their Saturday press conferences, Democrats and Republicans each highlighted old quotes in an effort to discredit the other side’s position:
Drowning Their Shutdown Sorrows
As they did during the last shutdown in 2013, some D.C.-area bars are courting furloughed federal workers with thematic drink discounts and expanded happy hours. The Capitol Lounge is offering anyone with a valid government ID a special $5 shutdown cocktail list with some pretty great drink names:
Statue of Liberty Closes, But Cuomo Vows to Reopen
Many national parks will remain open during the government shutdown, at least for a while. (Nonessential staff are staying home, so only go camping at a federal site if you’re ok with poorly maintained bathrooms.)
But on Saturday morning, New York City tourists got a rude awakening in the form of signs announcing that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were closed due to the shutdown.
Lady Liberty might welcome visitors again soon, however, as New York governor Andrew Cuomo promised on Saturday that state workers will step in to keep the Statue of Liberty open should the federal-government shutdown continue. (New York did the same thing during the 2013 shutdown.)
Democrats Love a Good Jello Metaphor
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer told the press that “hard-right forces in the administration” torpedoed his Friday talks with President Trump, and that negotiating with the president is “like negotiating with jello.”
Earlier, a Hawaii senator with a slightly different, but still Jell-O-based, image:
Is the Senate coordinating to make Jell-O the official snack of the shutdown? Are Democrats in the pocket of Big Jell-O? Stay tuned.
UPDATE: It turns out this is by no means a new thing.
John McCain Blames Both Sides for Impasse
In a statement, the ailing Arizona senator said that the “hard reality is that all of us share responsibility for this failure,” and lamented the effect shutting down the government would have on the military.
Neither Side Looks Ready to Blink
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan seem to be aligning on an uncompromising strategy: No discussion of DACA until Democrats agree to reopen the government. This goes directly against the previous positions of both men, but something tells us they won’t be losing any sleep.
McConnell Cold to Idea of Imminent DACA Vote
The Senate majority leader said on Saturday morning that he favors dealing with the all-important immigration negotation after the government reopens, which is unlikely to appeal to the Democrats who have already rejected that premise.
The Suffering of the Congresspeople
Trump Digs in on Twitter