Throughout former President Barack Obama's two terms in office, the threat of yet another government shutdown seemed far too frequent.
The Tea Party wing of the House was more than willing to grind government functions to a halt for nearly any excuse -- not raising the debt ceiling, trying to defund Planned Parenthood, refusing to keep the Affordable Care Act intact and so on. Most of the time the gambit failed at the last moment -- after all, on the rare occasion that do a shutdown occurs, it proves wildly unpopular for their party.
So why, now that Republicans control all of the chambers of the federal government, are we on the verge of a government shutdown? Ironically, it's still the Tea Party's fault.
With President Donald Trump now in office, it turns out that the anti-government Tea Party right remains just as disinterested in working with the Republican leaders as they were in working with Democrats previously.
President Trump already saw his first signature legislative act -- the American Health Care Act -- fall to pieces due to Tea Party opposition. Now the government teeters on the edge of a potential shutdown for the same reason.
"Saturday, April 29, will mark President Trump's 100th day in office. But will it also mark Day 1 of a government shutdown?" asks CNNMoney. "It will if Congress doesn't pass a spending bill soon that authorizes funding for the federal government -- and if the president doesn't sign it. The current temporary spending bill -- a so-called continuing resolution -- expires on April 28. But there are still five months remaining for this fiscal year that need funding."
While Democrats generally oppose the right's desire to defund Planned Parenthood, fund Trump's border wall or massively increase defense spending, the fact of the matter is that, technically, the GOP doesn't need any Democratic votes -- as long as it can keep its own party block intact.
However, that's easier said than done.
Fiscal conservatives are balking at the amount of taxpayer dollars proposed to fund the government, as well as the lack of any attempt to decrease the federal deficit. Those concerns make it highly possible that the President may oversee yet another historic first -- the first government shutdown to occur despite single party federal control.
The Associated Press reports:
There have been 12 government shutdowns since 1980, six of which lasted just one or two days. But there has never been a shutdown in that period that occurred when one party controlled the White House, the House and the Senate. That should make things easier to avoid a shutdown, but Trump has campaigned on big cuts in spending. If he abandons his call for spending cuts, it could embolden Democrats to oppose more of his agenda. But if he doesn't call for enough spending cuts, the conservative House Freedom Caucus could reject the plan. They routinely opposed spending bills during the Obama administration, and they frequently say they will not support any spending bill that widens the deficit.
Of course, Republican leaders are poo-pooing the idea that a historic shutdown could incapacitate the federal government just months into Trump's term.
"Let me just say this, Norah. We're not going to have a government shutdown," Speaker of the House Paul Ryan told CBS anchor Norah O'Donnell in an interview, according to Politico. "The president doesn't want to have a government shutdown. It's funding from April 28th to September 30th."
Then again, Ryan also swore that the GOP had the necessary votes in the House to pass the AHCA, but he was forced to pull the bill in defeat when the vote finally came.
Just weeks remain for Congress to pass a budget and stop the impending shutdown, but the GOP appears more divided than ever before. President Trump is now openly feuding with the Tea Party, making a deal look further away than ever.
When Trump was a mere businessman, bankruptcy was a constant companion for his businesses. Let's hope he didn't mean it when he said he would run the country just like one of his own corporations.