Evan Vucci / AP
On Capitol Hill, the last week of April is already being called Hell Week. That's when Congress returns from Easter break, with just days to prevent a government shutdown on April 29 — Day 100 of the Trump presidency.
This Friday, Trump is expected to get his first big congressional victory — the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court (although it looks it'll follow an ugly confrontation with Democrats that triggers the "nuclear option" to abandon the 60-vote threshold for confirmation).
The celebration will be short-lived. A shutdown is a very real possibility, Republican sources tell me — mainly because Republicans remain as fractured as they were when they tanked health reform:
- The House Freedom Caucus wants to use the coming budget fight to shrink government by defunding Obamacare and Planned Parenthood.
- Sen. John McCain told David Axelrod on the first TV version of his CNN podcast, "The Axe Files," that he'll do whatever it takes to increase military spending — even if that means a shutdown.
- Dems have no interest in helping Trump and Republicans, so they'll fight on all fronts. A senior Democratic aide emails that the party realizes its leverage: "[A] shutdown... would completely be viewed by the public as a function of Republican dysfunction."
To avoid a shutdown, Republicans will probably have no choice but to seduce Ds. Steve Elmendorf, a top Democratic lobbyist, told me it's very possible to construct a government-funding bill that'll get Democratic votes (no defunding of Planned Parenthood, no money for a wall, a reasonable position on defense/non-defense spending).
"The only way you get to a shutdown is incompetence, which this group is certainly capable of," Elmendorf said.
For frantic Republicans at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Hell Week looks like Hell Month.