President Trump’s favorite conservative talk show hosts may convince him to orchestrate a government shutdown.
The president, speaking to reporters Friday aboard Air Force One, signaled he’s eager to have a shutdown, though he figures he’ll wait until after the elections so it doesn’t hurt Republican candidates.
“I would do it because I think it’s a great political issue,” he said. “I was reading and watching the other day, there are some people I have a lot of respect for. Rush Limbaugh says it’s the greatest thing you can do. Mark Levin the greatest thing you can do.”
He added Fox News host Sean Hannity to that mix of shutdown cheerleaders, too.
But Mr. Trump also said “politicians that I like and respect” have told him not to force a shutdown, for fear of hurting their races ahead of the November elections.
The funding deadline looms at the end of this month and congressional leaders of both parties are desperate to avoid a shutdown, after two brief ones earlier this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News this week there was “zero” chance of a shutdown.
Funding the government requires passage of bills covering 12 areas of government.
Congress has made significant strides toward passing nine of those bills, accounting for 90 percent of basic government spending on everything from defense and water infrastructure to veterans care and health research.
One area that’s stalled, however, is homeland security, which includes Mr. Trump’s demand for a major boost in border wall spending.
If Congress can pass the nine bills it’s got in the pipeline, it would defuse the chances for a shutdown, because most of the government would be funded for all of fiscal year 2019.
The other 10 percent of government, including homeland security spending, would then have to operate on stopgap money from a “continuing resolution.”
But even there, a shutdown would be severely limited, because most homeland security functions are deemed essential, and other functions are self-funded. That means Border Patrol agents, the Coast Guard, emergency management workers and even the legal immigration service would keep operating through a lapse of funding — though most employees’ paychecks would halt.
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