Donald Trump’s 100th day in office is this week but celebrations may be amidst a government shutdown

by Soma Oj.

On Saturday, the 29th of April when a lot of Nigerians will either be rocking owambe dancefloors or for the demographic who live in Lagos, getting ready to shut down a convention centre in honour of the maverick singer, Asa who’s returning to Lagos in concert, the United States of America may be getting a different – sadder – kind of shut down. Wild enough, the 29th of April will mark Trump’s hundredth day in office.

The sticker on this government shutdown – if it happens – will read: “courtesy Donald’s budget chief, Mick Mulvaney.

Here’s the explanation.

Although, everything seems to have been going rosy for Trump’s government in the past few weeks – barring Jeff Session’s assumption that Hawaii is an Island, Trump’s administration has nailed Syria and Afghanistan; then there’s the China-US-North Korea love triangle  – things are not actually properly aligned.

Mid-March, Trump’s camp released a detailed spending request asking for a large increase in military spending as well as funds immigration enforcement – i.e enforcement of his drowning #MuslimBan – and finally, massive cuts to domestic discretionary spending.

The United States Congress as presently constituted is controlled by the Republicans. Still, to pass through the legislature, this spending request will need some Democratic help in the House and even some more in the Senate – we are talking at least 8 Democratic votes in favour.

That has not happened yet and does not look likely for several reasons. First because, the domestic spending cuts Trump is asking for will mean that the federal payments, that pay for health insurance for millions of Americans under Obamacare will be cut from the spending bill – by at least 18 billion dollars.  Secondly, the funding increase that is being requested for defence includes some money that will be used to help build Trump’s wall. Yes, the famous wall he beat his chest that Mexico will pay for. And finally, apart from the fact that the Democrats are naturally going to be opposed to this request in both Congressional houses, some Republican Congressmen, especially those representing border States are going to have a hard time letting such spending request through.

So what does all of this have to do with Trump’s 100th day in office?

You see, the thing in America is that the 100th day in office for any President has always been the point when both supporters and detractors really take stock of how far that administration has gone and how many of its campaign promises have been fulfilled. In other words, Trump will be judged on Saturday.

While the rules have obviously been altered for Trump with the “12 days in office” mark and daily judgements he receives from the press world over, it does not mean that the hundredth day in office will not mean as much for him as it did his predecessors. In other words, Trump will definitely be judged on Saturday. And his administration knows this.

They also know that there is not so much to show to supporters of the administration based on Trump’s campaign promises. His immigration ban to “keep terrorists out” has continued to fail in the face of court orders halting it one after the other even after he released a new one. His border wall has not only failed to go up against “the rapists and criminals”, the Mexican President has also made it clear that his country won’t be contributing to erecting any such wall. Even his promise to repeal and replace the Obamacare with “something better” has no prospect in the face of Congressional refusal to help throw the Affordable Care Act out.

Mick Mulvaney, the budget director in Trump’s administration knows this too. Which may explain why he has started spitting fire. Mulvaney suggested on Thursday that if Trump didn’t get his defence spending and border wall, spending that goes out towards many Obamacare subsidies must also be cut. And his people seem to be very eager to call for a government shutdown once an agreement cannot be reached. It do

Knowing this Trump and the people around him the way we have now come to in the past ninety-something days, that call will be made this week – before the 100th-day mark – in an attempt to force the hand of the Congress.

The last government shutdown was in October 2013 while Obama was still President. A funding gap was created when the two Congressional houses failed to agree to an appropriations continuing resolution. The Republican-led House of Representatives (in part encouraged by conservative senators such as Ted Cruz and people like Mulvaney who was then in Congress) offered several continuing resolutions with language delaying or defunding the Obamacare (yes, this law has had it rough). The Democratic-led Senate passed several amended continuing resolutions for maintaining funding at then-current sequestration levels with no additional conditions. Political fights over this and other issues between the House on one side and President Barack Obama and the Senate on the other led to a budget impasse which later led the federal government to shut down operations. For 16 days. Late in the evening of October 16, 2013, Congress passed the Continuing Appropriations Act which settled everything.

Ironically, now Trump has precedent from Obama to show that a federal government shut down when he cannot get his way can help him force Congress’ hand.

That kind of move won’t be surprising if Trump made it. And it looks like he will.


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