Trump revives his old shutdown ultimatum and pushes it back a few months

Now we’re all supposed to be worried about the government shutting down in September.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 2, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Evan Vucci

On Tuesday morning, President Donald Trump suggested that the United States “needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September” in order to fix the “mess” created by the Senate filibuster and Republicans’ inability to overcome it.

In theory, when the president of the United States invokes the specter of a government shutdown, that’s a pretty grave threat. But Trump has already played this card multiple times, to diminishing returns.

In April, Trump repeatedly signaled that he was willing to trigger a government shutdown unless Congress agreed to fund his proposed wall along the Mexican border. Last week, he caved on that demand.

Around the same time, he suggested he would be willing to halt payments that help low-income people receive coverage on the Obamacare markets — even though Democrats made clear they would rather allow the government to shut down than pass a budget that did not include those funds. The budget deal finalized by Congressional negotiators over the weekend contains those payments.

Trump needs to sign the deal this week in order to keep the government open. The fact that he’s now alluding to a shutdown in September — when that bill, once made law, would lapse — suggests that he will do so. With one stroke of the pen, he’ll be backing down on two simultaneous shutdown ultimatums, and replacing them with a third. It’s unclear why this new threat should be considered any more credible than the first two.

That’s particularly true because the president has a habit of delivering empty threats even on topics that have nothing to do with the federal budget. His 2016 campaign promise to sue Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) for “not being a natural born citizen” also came to nothing, for instance. And when he warned North Korea last week that he was sending an “armada” in their direction, it later turned out that the strike group was actually headed in an entirely different direction.

Then there are his myriad threats to members of the House Republican caucus regarding Trumpcare: First, that he would force a floor vote even though the bill seemed destined to fail (he pulled it at the last minute), and then that he would drop health care reform as a priority (he didn’t do that either).

So no, a government shutdown in September doesn’t look any more plausible this week than it did last week.

Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is making threats about amending or abolishing the First Amendment in response to negative press coverage. We’ll see how that goes.


Trump revives his old shutdown ultimatum and pushes it back a few months was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.