As President Trump rapidly approached a Monday deadline to avert a government shutdown, aides and lawmakers appeared flummoxed about his strategy, left to interpret musings from his Twitter feed while he golfed and otherwise remained out of public view.
A large spending bill that Congress passed last week must be signed into law by midnight on Monday to prevent many federal agencies from dramatically scaling back their operations. After Congress passed the bill, Trump posted a video on Twitter announcing his objections to it, claiming the stimulus payments in the legislation were too small and that foreign aid was too excessive.
Since the president posted the video on Dec. 22, White House aides have not offered any public briefings on his strategy or plans. Instead, Trump has issued a series of tweets reiterating his demand for changes but not saying much more. Vice President Pence is in Vail, Colo., and has also been out of sight in recent days.
The consequences of inaction are immense.
Starting Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of federal employees would be sent home without pay. And even the many federal employees who continue to work because they are deemed “essential,” such as members of the military, will not be paid until a new funding bill is authorized.
In addition to a government shutdown on Tuesday, eviction protections for millions of Americans would lapse later this week; more than 14 million people are losing unemployment benefits; and no stimulus checks would be issued. Failing to sign the bill into law would also freeze new money for vaccine distribution, small business aid, the ailing airline industry, and school aid, among other things. [Continue reading…]