With funding for the government about to run out, Republicans pushed this week for a one-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government open until mid-February, while they try to divine what would make the president happy on the rest. Republicans are trying to buy Democratic votes by attaching a six-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, known as CHIP, but so far the ploy hasn’t worked. Thus the impasse.
On Thursday, as Republicans tried to sell the one-month funding extension, Mr. Trump again tipped over the table. Though he’d indicated he was on board with a short-term funding deal that includes a CHIP extension, on Thursday morning he tweeted, “CHIP should be part of a long-term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!”
That produced a rare bipartisan moment, albeit of shared confusion. Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican, said in frustration that it was impossible to negotiate without a “reliable partner” in the White House.
The House speaker, Paul Ryan, and the White House tried to say Mr. Trump didn’t really mean what he tweeted about CHIP. But Democrats dug in. While a 30-day funding extension passed the House Thursday evening, it looks set to fail in the Senate.
A government shutdown is not political strategy — it is calamitous evidence of bipartisan dysfunction, and, in this case, chaotic and cruel directives from the White House. Both sides should buy themselves whatever time they need to reach a broader budget deal that protects young undocumented immigrants without punishing Americans with another shutdown. Congress should send the president a credible budget and demand that he sign it.