A Government Shutdown This Fall Is Already A Real Possibility

&l;p&g;&l;img class=&q;dam-image getty size-large wp-image-959539456&q; src=&q;https://specials-images.forbesimg.com/dam/imageserve/959539456/960×0.jpg?fit=scale&q; data-height=&q;640&q; data-width=&q;960&q;&g; Fiscal 2019 appropriations do not appear to be a high priority for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Even though the start of the next federal fiscal year is still four months away, Congress&s;s action…or, really, inaction…over the past week makes it virtually certain both that a continuing resolution will need to be enacted by October 1 to keep the government operating and that there will be a possible government shutdown this fall only six weeks before the midterm elections.

How is this possible? As they used to say in the cartoons (see below starting at about 55 seconds), just follow the bouncing ball.

1. Republican House and Senate leaders months ago made it clear that, even though federal law requires it, they will not allow Congress to vote on a budget resolution this year.

2. Appropriations for the coming year — fiscal 2019 in this case — cannot be considered by the full House until either the budget resolution is adopted or May 15, whichever comes first.

3. That means that as of a week ago, the House was legally allowed to debate and pass appropriations for the fiscal year that will start this October 1.

4. But even though it could move ahead, the House took no action whatsoever on any of the 2019 appropriations.

&l;!–donotpaginate–&g;5. In fact, &l;a href=&q;https://www.congress.gov/resources/display/content/Appropriations+for+Fiscal+Year+2019&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;according to Congress.gov&l;/a&g;, as of today only 5 of the 12 fiscal 2019 appropriations have been approved by the full House Appropriations Committee and another 2 have been approved by their subcommittee.

6. That means there hasn&s;t been even a preliminary approval of five of the fiscal 2019 appropriations.

7. And, as the Congress.gov chart also shows, nothing has yet been approved by either the full Senate Appropriations Committee or any of its subcommittees even though they&s;re not required to wait for the House to move forward.

8.&a;nbsp;Congress doesn&s;t have a great deal of time. Not only will fiscal 2019 begin in about four months, but&l;a href=&q;https://www.majorityleader.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/2018-Annual.pdf&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g; the House is only scheduled&l;/a&g; to be in session 42 of the 95 weekdays between now and then. &l;a href=&q;https://www.senate.gov/legislative/resources/pdf/2018_calendar.pdf&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;The Senate is only scheduled&l;/a&g; to be in session for 61 days.

9. Unless the House, Senate and White House work at an unprecedentedly fast pace, the only way to prevent a government shutdown this fall will be for Congress to agree on a continuing resolution.

10. But with Paul Ryan (R-WI) being a lame duck speaker, the House Freedom Caucus&l;a href=&q;https://www.politico.com/story/2018/05/18/farm-bill-fails-597661&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g; once again feeling its political oats&l;/a&g;, Democrats not wanting to hand the GOP any kind of legislative victory just before the election and a president who may feel the need to prove his value to his base on spending after he signed the 2018 omnibus appropriation against its wishes, getting an agreement in the House on a CR may not be that easy.

11. An agreement between House and Senate Republicans that is also acceptable to Trump will be just as difficult. He&s;s already tweeted that he wants billions for his wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

&l;/p&g;&l;blockquote class=&q;twitter-tweet&q;&g;

&l;p dir=&q;ltr&q; lang=&q;en&q;&g;The Senate should get funding done before the August break, or NOT GO HOME. Wall and Border Security should be included. Also waiting for approval of almost 300 nominations, worst in history. Democrats are doing everything possible to obstruct, all they know how to do. STAY!&l;/p&g;

&a;mdash; Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) &l;a href=&q;https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/995428472674758656?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&q; target=&q;_blank&q;&g;May 12, 2018&l;/a&g;&l;/blockquote&g;

12. It&s;s logical to assume that Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) want to prevent the possibility of a shutdown this fall by pushing hard to enact as many individual 2019 appropriations as possible.

13. But with so few legislative days left before the start of the fiscal year, that option essentially is already gone.

14. Ryan and McConnell will also want to avoid short-term CRs that will keep House and Senate Republicans in Washington in October rather than campaigning for reelection in their districts and states.

15. That makes October 1 the relevant deadline and a showdown this fall over a multi-month continuing resolution and a government shutdown a real possibility.

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