Some lawmakers in Washington are worrying — both in private and openly — about the possibility that a government shutdown could come about due to President Donald Trump attempting to compel Democrats to drop the impeachment inquiry looking into his actions in office.
Those fears were not alleviated over the weekend, when Trump did not definitively rule it out as a possibility.
Funding for the government is set to expire on November 21, right before the Thanksgiving break that lawmakers typically take. When asked by reporters on Sunday whether he’d use the threat of a shutdown to try and negotiate Democrats out of continuing the impeachment investigation, the president initially said “no, no, no,” Politico reported.
But immediately after doing so, he changed his tune, giving a more ambiguous answer.
Trump won't rule out a Thanksgiving government shutdown if Democrats don't give up on the impeachment inquiry pic.twitter.com/wxZCXWGMjr
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) November 4, 2019
“It depends on — it depends on what the negotiation — I wouldn’t commit to anything. It depends on what the negotiation is,” he said.
Many economists agree, this far out from the deadline, the chances of a shutdown are still relatively low. But in an email conversation with the Washington Post about the subject, Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, couldn’t say it definitely wouldn’t happen.
“I don’t count out the chance of a shutdown, MacGuineas said. “This is a more chaotic environment than we’ve been in in recent years and there’s absolutely no certainty about how this plays out.”
There would certainly be repercussions for Trump if the American public disagreed with such a move. Already facing low approval ratings and troubling polling numbers against a number of Democratic candidates, Trump could risk losing even more political capital if his calculations were wrong about using a shutdown to force an end to impeachment proceedings.
Still, Democrats have openly questioned whether the president is brazen enough to push forward with the idea.
Trump “always likes to create diversions,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said last week. “I hope and pray he won’t want to cause another government shutdown because it might be a diversion away from impeachment.”