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Shutdown Averted, For Now


The US federal government will stay open, at least for the time being. But the budget fight is not yet over.

Republicans have enough seats in the House and Senate to do whatever they want, including pass a budget. But that’s just the problem: they don’t agree with each other enough to do so. The Freedom Caucus–a band of anti-government extremists who favor nothing less than the shuttering of almost the entire federal government–refuse to budge. This leaves Republicans with no choice but to strike deals with much more reasonable Democrats, who are willing to continue funding the government, including some pet Republican initiatives, as long as Democrats get to keep some of what they want–like Obamacare subsidies.

What happened this time, then? Well, all we have is a one-week extension, which means we are not out of the woods yet. Nothing has changed at this point. A final deal still needs to be produced. The question is, how far are Democrats willing to press their advantage to get what they want, without forcing Republicans to walk away and simply allow a shutdown? It’s a game of chicken: either party could, through obstinacy or excessive ambition, cause the other to pull the trigger and invoke a shutdown.

It’s anyone’s guess as to what a final funding bill will look like, if one can even be agreed upon in the next week. Perhaps crucially for the Trump administration, the President–who will have his 100th day in office tomorrow–doesn’t seem to be too involved in these budget negotiations, which suggests his influence with Congress is waning. New Presidents have fairly narrow windows in which to see their top agenda items accomplished, and Trump’s is quickly closing.

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