WASHINGTON ― Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Monday he’s concerned about the possibility that President Donald Trump refuses to sign a bill funding the government over the ongoing Democratic House impeachment inquiry.
“I’m increasingly worried that President Trump may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment … He always likes to create diversions,” Schumer said during a weekly press conference on Tuesday.
“I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion,” the senator from New York added.
Lawmakers have been working on funding the government ahead of a looming Nov. 21 deadline. A key sticking point in those negotiations, however, is more funding for Trump’s border wall, which Democrats have dismissed as a non-starter.
Absent a miracle in the next few weeks, Congress will likely need to pass a short-term continuing resolution in order to keep the lights on past the Thanksgiving holiday. Even if Congress does agree on a short-term measure, however — one that will keep the government running until February or March as is currently being discussed by lawmakers, for example — it’s not clear yet whether Trump would sign it into law. He declined to do so last year over border wall funding, to the surprise of many of his party members.
“The president is very committed to the wall … We’re going to fight very hard for those resources,” White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland told reporters on Tuesday when asked if Trump would sign any spending bill without any additional funding for the border barrier.
Congress continues to operate during government shutdowns ― as it did earlier this year during the longest government funding lapse in history ― so the House’s impeachment inquiry would not cease to operate if that were the case.
However, an impeachment trial in the Senate could make future budget discussions more difficult depending on when and if the Senate ultimately takes up any House impeachment articles. Once the Senate begins the trial, it cannot work on other legislative business until the proceedings are concluded, burning precious working days that could otherwise be used to work out a deal.
For now, though, both sides are content with trading shots at each other over a bill to fund the Defense Department that includes more money for Trump’s wall. Republicans on Tuesday accused Democrats of putting at risk defense funding and paychecks to U.S. troops. Democrats, meanwhile, said Republicans were “stealing from the troops” by proposing to build Trump’s wall with Defense Department funds.
“It seems we’re obviously at a bit of a standstill,” Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-Neb.) said Tuesday.