What does the current so-called impasse between Mark Meadows and Nancy Pelosi over another round of coronavirus bailouts have to do with a possible government shutdown at the end of the month?
Well, it’s an election year, so the answer is . . . EVERYTHING!
Why do I call it a “so-called” impasse?
Because, despite claims by Mitch — “Firewall against far-left socialism” — McConnell, he and his fellow Republicans are already on board with giving Nancy Pelosi everything she wants in the next coronavirus bailout. They’re just looking for a way to do so without further upsetting their diminishing prospects of victory in November.
For proof, we need look no further than Trumpist sellout and current White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. In his previous life as a Republican representative and member of the House Freedom Caucus, Meadows fought against the Republican establishment and excessive government spending.
Meadows has been in “negotiations” with Pelosi on the next coronavirus bailout, but his track record of saying one thing and doing another — which made him a perfect fit for a president who has the same track record — has given Pelosi ammo to hammer Republicans while giving Republicans the cover they need to eventually give her what she wants.
This is where the threat of a government shutdown comes in.
The current federal budget expires on September 30 which is the end of the fiscal year. Congress must pass some sort of spending legislation — most likely in the form of a continuing resolution (CR) to kick the budget can passed the election — before October 1 to avoid a government shutdown.
McConnell, as he has done ever since becoming majority leader in 2014, has assured Trump and the Democrats — sorry if that sounded redundant — there won’t be a shutdown despite rumors that the coronavirus bailout will be tied to upcoming budget negotiations.
In an article by TheHill.com, we learn how the odds are rising that a deal on what will be the fifth coronavirus bailout will be tied to any spending legislation passed to avoid a government shutdown.
The odds are rising that any deal on a fifth coronavirus relief package will be tied to legislation to prevent a government shutdown.
After weeks of stalemated talks, the timeline for the two fights have all but merged: The House is set to leave until after the election by Oct. 2, giving lawmakers only a matter of weeks to get a deal on another coronavirus bill. And government agencies cannot run when the next fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 without new funding from Congress.
Tying the two together would set up a high-stakes election-year battle, combining the threat of a shutdown with help for roughly 30 million Americans out of work since the spread of the coronavirus that has rattled the economy and killed more than 180,000 people in the United States.
And the deadline would be a month before an election both sides cast as the most important in generations.
Support for combining the two issues is supported by Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) to help Republicans avoid politically damaging “chaos.” Meanwhile, Mark Meadows revealed the true motivation behind discussions to combine the coronavirus bailout with a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
Meadows, asked if he thought Trump would be blamed for a shutdown, noted that there would be “all kinds of blame to go around.”
“The president doesn’t want to shut it down. I don’t want to shut it down,” Meadows said during a Politico live event. “We know how these negotiations go. … Everybody looks for the leverage, the next cliff.”
Political leverage? I guess that’s way more important than doing what’s best for America.
The idea has been on the GOP radar for quite some time.
The idea of linking the CR and coronavirus aid has been circulating around Capitol Hill, particularly among Republicans, for weeks.
The strategy, according to supporters, would let them achieve two goals at once: getting some coronavirus aid across the finish line after an entrenched stalemate and preventing an election-year shutdown that would inject a fresh dose of chaos into an already unpredictable year.
Despite the inevitable denials we’re going to hear from Trump, McConnell and Meadows, the outcome is all but certain.
McConnell declined to say earlier this month if he would support putting coronavirus relief aid onto a CR but asserted that he wasn’t worried about a shutdown.
“I’m still hoping we’ll have some kind of bipartisan agreement here sometime in the coming weeks,” McConnell told reporters.
But Meadows, known for his ability to blow up deals, appeared open to folding them together to neutralize the threat of a shutdown, which would be the third under the Trump administration.
“I think that if we do a COVID deal right now we ought to just do a continuing resolution as part of that solution so we take a shutdown off the table,” Meadows said.
The Republican threat of a government shutdown is a one-act play, and we’ve seen it before. If you only listened to the faux conservative media and pro-Republican Political Action Committees, you might be convinced that an apocalyptic government shutdown might actually occur if a coronavirus bailout isn’t a part of the discussion.
Based on what we’ve seen from past performances of this play, however, such a scenario is more like make-believe than reality.
Why? Because an election is at stake, and Republicans need leverage before it arrives. Right, Mark Meadows?
David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.