Former Senate majority leader says a government shutdown is unlikely

Former Senate majority leader says a government shutdown is unlikely

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Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) is shown at the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. (Kyle Cassidy/GFDL and Creative Commons)

WASHINGTON – Former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott predicted that lawmakers will be able to forge an agreement to fund the government by the Sep. 30 fiscal deadline and avoid a shutdown.

“I don’t expect there will be one (a shutdown). It makes no sense to do that. But it takes work and it takes give and take on both sides,” Lott, a Mississippi Republican, told TMN in an interview on Monday.

He added: “Unfortunately Washington officials have sort of lost their way in how you get a compromise or get an agreement that involves give and take but they shouldn’t be adding stuff on this.”

“If they’re going to have a fight over the border wall or over other issues they should do it in the regular legislative process or the appropriations process, but I don’t believe either side will push it to this point,” Lott added.

Ten legislative days remain before lawmakers are scheduled to leave Washington for a two-week recess for the Jewish holidays. That means Friday Sep. 27 is the last possible day for a vote on an agreement unless legislative business is extended to Monday, Sep. 30. If no action is taken, the government will run out of money at 12:01 a.m. EDT on Oct. 1.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives has passed 10 of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the government. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the annual defense bill last week along with energy and water funding bills.

Tuesday the House Appropriations Committee is expected to release the text of a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government until Thanksgiving. A CR maintains funding at existing levels.

Democratic congressional leaders have said the CR must be “clean,” meaning it cannot contain any “poison pills,” such as funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall or other non-related programs or initiatives. The administration recently diverted $3.6 billion in military construction funds for the wall. Democrats decried the move as unconstitutional. However, in July, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the administration’s right to divert $2.5 billion in funds for the wall.

“I expect that they would do a clean CR. If they don’t, then it will completely bog down,” Lott said. “I don’t think anybody wants a shutdown. Nobody wins with that.”

Lott is senior counsel with the D.C. lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs. He was in the Senate from 1989-2007 and served as majority leader from 1996-2002. He previously served as both Senate Republican whip and House Republican whip.

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