N.H. Senators to Trump: Make a deal to avoid government shutdown

  • In this Dec. 11, 2018, photo, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Congress is racing to avoid a partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s border. But you wouldn’t know it by the schedule. Lawmakers are away until next week. The ball is in Trump’s court, both sides say. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) Evan Vucci

For the Monitor
Published: 12/16/2018 7:15:04 PM

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen remains optimistic that a deal will be struck to prevent a partial federal government shutdown.

“We need to provide the assurance that people are looking for, the certainty to make sure that things continue to operate,” New Hampshire’s senior U.S. senator told the Monitor on Friday.

Roughly a quarter of the federal government could come to a halt on Dec. 21 absent any bipartisan deal to fund the government between President Donald Trump and Congress.

If no long-term, or even temporary, agreement is reached a shutdown would kick in impacting Granite Staters and people across the country.

More than 380,000 federal workers would be furloughed, including the vast majority of employees at the Department of Commerce and Housing and Urban Development, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, and NASA, as well as a third of the Transportation Department and more than 50,000 IRS workers.

A report from Democratic staffers on the Senate Appropriations Committee said nine out of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies would close their doors just three days before Christmas.

Among those impacted, according to the report, would be farmers, as the USDA would shutter every local and state farm service center across the country. Some small business would also feel the effects of the shutdown, as many would no longer have access to federally-assisted loans and technical assistance due to a freeze in Small Business Administration loan guarantees.

And the Federal Housing Administration would see significant delays in loan processing and approvals, impacting thousands of people trying to purchase a new home or refinance FHA-insured mortgages.

The main sticking point in the high stakes game of political chicken between the president and lawmakers is Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build his much advertised wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Both Democrats as well as Republicans in Congress agree that the ball rests with the president. During a very contentious Oval Office showdown on Tuesday between Trump and Democratic leaders in Congress that was televised live, the President said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if Democrats denied him the $5 billion he seeks for his border wall.

“I am deeply concerned by the president’s comments that he would be ‘proud’ to shut down the government. We were already able to come together across party lines to fund most of the government through the next fiscal year, and we should be able to do the same for the agencies that remain unfunded,” said New Hampshire’s other U.S. senator, fellow Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Hassan pointed to a bipartisan plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security and urged Trump “to take a serious look at that plan and give it his support.”

“The president needs to stop playing political games at the expense of our country and the well-being of Granite Staters and Americans,” Hassan said.

Shaheen agreed.

“I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interests for the president not to fund Homeland Security, the guards we need at the border, all the work that’s being done to address what’s happening in our immigration system,” she said.

As he’s done in the past, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu took aim at all sides in the nation’s capital. 

“Despite DC’s daily dysfunction, we expect all of our elected officials in Washington to do their job and find a long-term solution to keep the government open,” he said.

Sununu also vowed that “in the event of a potential shutdown, New Hampshire will be prepared and open for business.”

The latest shutdown crisis comes as the federal budget deficit soars. The recently completed 2018 fiscal year saw the nation’s largest deficit in six years.

Democrats blame the GOP tax cuts, which were signed into law by Trump at the end of last year.

“The increase in the deficit is due almost exclusively to the tax bill which was passed, which increased the deficit by $1.3 trillion in the last year,” Shaheen argued. “We need to look long term to how we can pay down the debt and those deficits and continue to work on that.”

Forecasters predict the deficit will push past $1 trillion by 2020.

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