Concern is growing on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump might orchestrate another government shutdown in order to pause or retaliate against House Democrats’ impeachment proceedings, according to NBC News.
Federal funding is set to expire on November 21 unless Congress agrees on a dozen spending measures that would keep the government open. While that in itself presents an issue for keeping federal paychecks flowing, lawmakers are also worried that Trump will interject himself in a bid to turn the public’s mind against the impeachment inquiry, blaming Democrats if a shutdown happens.
"He used it for his almighty wall for the longest shutdown in history, so I don't put anything past him when it comes to this," Democratic Minority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois told NBC News.
Ron Bonjean, a former GOP leadership aide in both the House and Senate, said, "The Republican leadership is watching this very closely and anything really can happen, and that does give him the ability to express himself and he has done that before.”
He added: "Could it happen again? Absolutely. And especially when everything is so personal.”
A former senior Trump administration official told the news outlet that Trump has less reason to cooperate with Democrats on spending the longer they “drag out this impeachment circus,” adding that the president could use a shutdown to his advantage by casting blame on the Democrats.
"The administration could use a spending showdown to put the focus back on the issues and the fact that Democrats don't want to pay for national security, border security or restrain wasteful spending,” the former aide official said.
However, Democrats believe the move would backfire. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) said in a statement: "If some Republicans want to shut down the government because the House is upholding our oath of office and holding President Trump accountable, they'll have to defend that to the American people."
Recent polling shows that “a plurality of Americans (48.6 percent to 43.3 percent) support removing the president from office,” NBC News noted.
Should Trump decide to orchestrate a government shutdown, a likely factor would be knowing that Democrats would “face the politically risky prospect of moving forward with impeachment while the rest of the government sat still.”