December 14, 2020 - Douglas Myser

President is wildcard in shutdown talks. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are wondering if they can trust President Trump to sign legislation to keep the government funded and avoid a shutdown before the end of the year. Republicans and Democratic lawmakers say a government shutdown is not off the table and see Trump, who has refused to concede the election as the main wild card. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who met with Senate Republicans, said the president wants to keep the government funded. But he's not ruling out the possibility of a year end shutdown. "You can't guarantee anything," he said before adding "It's a high priority to make sure we keep our government funded." Both parties have reason to avoid a shutdown with two runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5 set to decide the Senate Majority. Democrats would have to win both of the races to win the majority. President is wildcard in shutdown talks.

A shutdown would add yet another note of uncertainty to those races, with whichever side is blamed for a shutdown likely taking on the biggest risk. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R_Ala.), a veteran of these battles, said nothing is guaranteed. "It's in nobody's interest. It's not in the President's interest, it's not in the House interest, it's not in our interest," he said of a shutdown. He then added 'You never know around here." Meadows said the White House is interested in working with Senate Republicans to wrap up the year's remaining agenda items, but provided few details.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after a GOP lunch that the White House would support a year end stimulus spending bill, even though it could approach $1.4 trillion and Trump has criticized such measures in the past. "It's our hope, and I think this is the Speaker's view as well, that we can come together on an omnibus and pass it," he said "I believe that's the preference of the White House as well.