By Erik Sherman
December 11, 2018

The planned meeting between President Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and presumptive Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi today could make or break the chance of a Christmas partial government shutdown.

Funding for several agencies—including the Departments of Homeland Security, State, Justice, Interior, and Commerce—ends at 11:59 p.m. on December 21. White House officials have said that Trump wants a dialog with Pelosi and Schumer rather than his delivery of demands, according to CQ Rollcall. But in part that is because of the difficult context.

Previously, Trump has said that he was “totally willing” to see a government shutdown over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall that was a major campaign promise of the president. Democrats have said they are unwilling to move beyond a bipartisan $1.6 billion number previously negotiated, rather than the $5 billion Trump has wanted.

However, with pressure from prosecutors and his chief of staff on the way out without a replacement named, Trump negotiates from a point of weakness. Democrats have also said that Trump’s “word isn’t good,” according to Politico.

The chance of a shutdown is real. However, Trump has previously backed away from promises to let a shutdown happen, as the New York Daily News has reported. In September, Trump gave up on weeks of suggesting that he would accept a shutdown and signed an $854 billion spending bill that didn’t include wall funding.

If anything, Trump’s position is weaker than before, particularly as a Democratic takeover of the House provides the party with tools to further trouble him. And that might be good news, given current situations like the trade war with China, diplomatic tensions with a number of countries, and questions about treatment of immigrants.

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