Government shutdown ends, but repeats of it could be on the horizon

WASHINGTON — With President Donald Trump's signature, the three-day government shutdown is now officially over.

However, the president was largely absent in the process until he signed the spending measure. Also, because of federal regulations, and the way Congress works, it's possible that we could see another shutdown in as little as three weeks, and if not then, in the months and years ahead.

With the passage of a stopgap spending bill on Monday, shuttered federal facilities, such as National Parks sites like Hamilton Grange, Alexander Hamilton's home in Hamilton Heights, will reopen on Tuesday.

Many other federal facilities in the tri-state area, including VA hospitals, military installations, air traffic control offices and towers, did not close during the shutdown, but their workers were not able to be paid until the shutdown ended.

Now that it has done so, "We we have a lot to do," said Sen. Charles Schumer of New York, the Senate Minority Leader, as he announced that the stalemate over the spending bill is over.

Democrats had contended that a GOP-backed spending bill they'd rejected last Friday did not address a broad array of their domestic spending priorities, and that it did not include an agreement on DACA -- the legislation that would potentially provide a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Early on Monday afternoon, Schumer's language about the impasse had notably changed. "I'm confident that we can get the 60 votes on a DACA bill," he said.

It was a reference to a key provision of the deal struck by Democrats and Republicans in the Senate. The spending measure passed by an enormous margin, 81 to 18, after the GOP agreed to try and forge an agreement on DACA by February 8th, when the spending measure ran out.

If there was not a DACA deal by then, said Schumer on Monday, the Senate would focus debate on DACA exclusively, until there was some conclusion on the issue.

That's not necessarily guaranteed, and neither is federal funding beyond February 8. Both could mean that the country may see another budget impasse in just three weeks. The general consensus is that some agreement will be reached.

However, as Baruch College political science professor Thomas Halper pointed out, "The larger question is, is this going to be a problem, kind of indefinitely? Is this going to be a problem until Congress decides to change the funding system to get it on a more stable basis?"

Halper, the author of four books on national politics, said that while he doesn't necessarily see another shutdown in three weeks, he does not see Congress getting the funding issue in hand. "My guess is that this will continue to be a problem," Halper told PIX11 News.

He also said something very similar to a comment made by Sen. Schumer. "The great deal-making president sat on the sidelines," said Schumer, on the Senate floor Monday. “Despite and because of this frustration, I’ve been having conversations with the Republican leader over the weekend about a path forward,” which led to the agreement that the president signed Monday night.

Halper's assessment of the situation is similar. "The president, who's a great negotiator, had no role here," said the veteran observer of eight different presidential administrations. The reason, said Halper, is, "You have to master the material."

For his part, President Trump's spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Monday that the president had been “managing the shutdown” and, behind the scenes, he was working to get senators to “do the right thing.”

However, the president, who typically is fairly open to public appearances and at least a few questions and answers from the press, has not appeared in public since last Thursday. The White House did release photos of the President Trump at work over the weekend, during the shutdown, which ran from 12:01 A.M. Saturday, until Monday evening.