US President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference with Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg in the East Room of the White House January 10, 2018 in...

As shutdown deadline nears, Trump faces a leadership test


Federal policymakers still have about 15 hours before reaching the shutdown deadline, and it’s possible the relevant players will work something out. It just doesn’t appear especially likely.

Around 7:30 p.m. (ET) last night, House Republicans passed their stopgap spending bill on a 230-197 vote. GOP leaders are well aware of the fact that the bill – a “continuing resolution” (or CR) – needs to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate, and they’re well aware that their measure doesn’t have the votes, but the House passed it anyway.

Senate Democratic leaders urged the upper chamber to vote on the House plan last night, defeating it quickly so that lawmakers could begin work on an alternative, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) balked, scheduling a vote for today, hoping the added pressure will persuade some wavering members to vote for the GOP proposal. (This won’t work.)

As NBC News reported, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has also offered “a shorter stop-gap measure, lasting just four or five days, to be used as a hard deadline on an agreement on government spending levels and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program known as DACA.” That, too, would prevent a shutdown, though Republicans do not appear amenable, at least not yet.

But of particular interest was another idea Schumer presented last night: the New York senator suggested the top four members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders from both chambers – simply get together and craft a compromise. McConnell objected to this, too, insisting that the president is “not irrelevant” in our system of government, and his views “have not been made fully apparent yet.”

Donald Trump, I believe that’s your cue.

The funny thing is, before taking office, Trump said he knew how to prevent shutdowns. During the 2013 fight, Trump explained,:

“Problems start from the top. They have to get solved from the top. The president’s the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room, and he’s got to lead…. The right guy would get everybody into a room and would make a deal. You gotta get ‘em into a room. You gotta to talk to them. You gotta to cajole. You gotta do what you do when you make deals.”

Five years later, is the president ready to “make a deal”? Is he able to? Does he even know what a deal would look like?

Chuck Schumer, Donald Trump, Government Shutdowns and Mitch McConnell

As shutdown deadline nears, Trump faces a leadership test