Trump warns GOP: CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a stopgap measure!

He’s right. We need to move away from short-term fixes that kick the legislative can down the road a few weeks only to then force Congress to kick it again. It’s reassuring that POTUS is as tired of that game as the rest of us are.

Now, who wants to tell him that a long-term extension is already part of the current House funding bill?

The reason Trump’s tweet creates a problem for the GOP is that they’re using a long-term extension of CHIP as bait to try to get Democrats to support a short-term continuing resolution that’ll fund the government and avert a shutdown next week. Trump’s tweet suggests that either (a) he thinks Republicans are proposing a short-term fix for CHIP, which is wrong, or (b) he doesn’t think CHIP should be part of a short-term bill like the continuing resolution — which is the Democrats’ position. Democrats want to split the two issues off from each other because they’re under heavy pressure from the left not to vote for a funding bill that doesn’t include a DREAM amnesty. Republicans won’t agree to a DREAM bill without more from Democrats on enforcement so they’re offering to make CHIP part of the continuing resolution instead. That puts Pelosi in a bind: She really wants to extend CHIP but amnesty fans will go nuts if she votes for a CR that includes CHIP but not DREAM.

And now here’s the president implying, doubtless inadvertently, that she’s right and that CHIP should be “part of” a long-term funding bill instead. If that were to happen, Democrats would have no reason at all to support the CR. We could be headed for a shutdown, the politics of which are always fraught for Republicans. Especially when they control the entire government.

So it’s clean-up time for the White House:

Republicans, I think, are going to spin Trump’s tweet as essentially just endorsing the House bill. “He wants a long-term extension of CHIP, we’re offering a long-term extension of CHIP. Everyone’s on the same page.” Right, but Democrats are on that page too. They also want a long-term extension of CHIP. What they don’t want is CHIP being used as leverage to pressure them into voting for a short-term funding bill. Trump’s tweet confuses the issue. Or, alternately, he doesn’t understand that Democrats will point to his tweet if there’s a shutdown and say, “See? Even the president thought it was a bad idea to make CHIP part of a short-term bill.”

Anyway. The House isn’t the problem here. Republicans have a majority and they’ll pass the CR. The problem is the Senate, where right now it’s anyone’s guess if McConnell has 50 votes to pass the House bill. Lindsey Graham and Mike Rounds have already said they’ll vote no; Graham, of course, is grumpy that there’s no DREAM amnesty attached. Joe Manchin, however, is a yes. That leaves McConnell exactly at 50 at the moment if every other Republican hangs with him. But there are still some undecideds like Jeff Flake, Mike Lee, and Rand Paul. A shutdown is a real possibility. And McConnell’s started to plan for it:

The Senate majority leader intends to keep the chamber in session through the weekend and stage a series of votes designed to put Democrats from conservative states on defense, according to two Republican sources familiar with his plans and an email sent by McConnell on Thursday and obtained by POLITICO.

The goal would be to place the blame for a shutdown squarely on 10 Democratic senators up for reelection this fall in states won by Donald Trump in 2016, and make them the face of a government closure.

That’s a shrewd move. With enough pressure, he might be able to replace a no vote from Paul, say, with a yes vote from Jon Tester or Heidi Heitkamp. And if he doesn’t and the government shuts down, maybe the stubbornness of red-state Democrats in refusing to compromise can be used as a club in the midterms. If nothing else, it’ll let the GOP spread some of the blame for a shutdown to the other party.

Here’s Pelosi doing her best to head that narrative off at the pass. Remember when Trump said in May that America “needs a good shutdown,” she asks? I do remember. His point when he said that was that a shutdown due to Democratic obstruction would prove that it’s time to end the filibuster and allow simple majority rule in the Senate, as he’s called for many times. But Democratic attack ads won’t provide the full context if the government shuts down and the parties begin wrestling over who’s to blame. And in any case, Trump’s problem (as usual) isn’t that McConnell can’t get to 60 votes in the Senate, it’s that he might not be able to get to *50.* “America needs a good shutdown” is a bad soundbite under any circumstances. They’re going to grind his face in it if it happens.