Chuck Schumer says he is 'increasingly worried' Trump will shut down the government to distract from impeachment probe

Key Points
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he worries President Donald Trump will shut down the federal government to divert attention from the House's impeachment probe. 
  • Funding will lapse on Nov. 21 if Congress cannot pass a spending plan — and get Trump's signature on it. 
  • The House is moving forward with its impeachment probe as senators try to hash out appropriations bills. 
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talks to reporters after the weekly Senate policy lunches at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, October 29, 2019.
Siphiwe Sibeko | Reuters

Chuck Schumer, the top Senate Democrat, said Tuesday that he worries President Donald Trump will shut down the federal government to divert attention from the House's impeachment probe.

Funding will lapse after Nov. 21 if Congress cannot pass spending legislation — and get Trump to sign it. The Senate minority leader said he thinks the Democratic-held House and GOP-controlled Senate can strike a deal to keep the government running, but suggested Trump could blow up an agreement.

"I believe left to our own devices Congress could work out an agreement to quickly fund the government," Schumer, a New York Democrat, told reporters on Capitol Hill. "But I'm increasingly worried that President Trump may want to shut down the government again because of impeachment, an impeachment inquiry. He always wants to create diversions."

House releases resolution outlining impeachment probe process

Representatives for the White House's Office of Management and Budget did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment.

Shutdowns — even when they're brief — have become a repeated spectacle in the Trump administration amid fights over immigration funding. A record 35-day funding lapse affecting parts of the government in December and January forced hundreds of thousands of workers to miss two paychecks.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment probe into Trump last month, and pushed for documents and testimony from key administration officials, the president has railed against the inquiry as a "witch hunt" designed to invalidate the 2016 election. The House is looking into whether Trump abused his power to influence the 2020 election by urging Ukraine to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.

The investigation is only the fourth serious impeachment inquiry into an American president. The House plans to vote soon on a resolution setting up the procedures for its impeachment process.

If the House impeaches the president, the Senate would have to hold a trial to decide whether to remove him from office. Depending on if and when the House moves, a Senate trial could derail work on funding the government.

This is what happens when the U.S. government shuts down

Congress had already passed one funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, to keep the government running at existing spending levels through Nov. 21. Lawmakers have failed to quickly agree on regular appropriations bills.

The House has passed 10 of 12 measures need to fund government agencies. The Senate has not approved any of the bills amid disagreements over defense and border security spending, though Republicans are pushing to pass four of them this week.

Congress may have to pass a stopgap spending plan to prevent a government shutdown for another few months. Last week, Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican and chairman of the chamber's Appropriations Committee, said a continuing resolution was a possibility.

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