The spending deal to avert another government shutdown is no one’s dream bill.
President Trump is facing a worse deal than if he had just accepted the initial offer made to him in December. Conservatives (including many reporters and talk-show hosts who have the president’s ear) are angry there is no money for an actual border wall. Liberals say Democrats conceded too much, especially on immigration enforcement.
Still, in the end, the Democratic-led House, the Republican-majority Senate and the president will almost certainly pass and sign the measure into law by Friday at midnight.
The evidence is in how lackluster the opposition has been from all sides since the deal was announced. No one has the energy to keep up this fight.
The biggest potential critic is, obviously, the president. The new bill gives him little to celebrate. But though the White House has remained noncommittal and noted the president’s unhappiness with the final product, it has also indicated Trump is likely to sign it to avoid a government shutdown.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, is a strong no on the deal. But the House does not need his support to push the law through. And Meadows resignedly said he expects the president to sign on. (Meadows also said he hoped Trump would take some executive action to circumvent Congress to build a wall.)
Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairs, also noted their general disdain for the deal. But they said they are not going to rally their members to vote against it.
“We’re not trying to kill this bill,” Jayapal said.
“Clearly there is not funding for a wall, and that was very important to us,” Pocan said.
One reason the opposition on the bill might be so lackluster is no one got everything, but everyone got a little something they can use to justify their support to their base. Democrats held firm on their pledge to give Trump no money for a wall. That’s significant to their base, even though some Democrats are disappointed that funding for any kind of physical barrier was allowed.
For Trump, the shutdown was a political loser. The president saw his approval rating dip to 37 percent during the standoff. Since then, his numbers have rebounded to 44 percent, according to Gallup. There would be no political upside for Trump to allow the government to close again, even if it means agitating his ardent anti-illegal-immigration base.
Of course, no one can predict the future, especially not with this president. A few sticking points remain, including Democrats’ contention that federal contractors who lost wages during the shutdown receive back pay.
So until the last stroke of Trump’s signature is on the spending bill, there is still an outside chance everything could fall apart.
Rep. Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.), who is chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee and helped lead negotiations, warned on Bloomberg TV: “Unless everything is agreed to, we can’t shout ‘Hallelujah.’ "
Erica Werner and Paul Kane contributed to this report.