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What are the odds of a government shutdown?

Let’s ignore the deja vu factor and skip right to the key question: Will the U.S. government shut down this week? The honest answer is, of course, as in the many other government shutdown scenarios of the past few years, no one can say with certainty.

But we can help gauge the odds. Here are some things that could make a shutdown more (or less) likely.

A shutdown is more likely if:

  • President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, including his tweets, becomes sharper.
  • Democrats’ rhetoric becomes sharper (and statements start flowing faster).
  • House Republicans exit their meeting Tuesday night openly unhappy. As it stands now, Speaker Paul Ryan needs 218 out of the 239 House Republicans to vote yes on a deal to fund the government. (Democrats insist they won’t support it without a deal on the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects young “Dreamers” from deportation.) But many conservatives have railed against the idea of another short-term deal. A temperature check of those Republicans will tell us a lot.
  • The conservative House Freedom Caucus decides to vote against a short-term spending deal. That alone could derail it.
  • Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell announces there is no deal or possible deal on DACA this week. That could create problems with moderate Senate Democrats needed to pass government funding.
  • Sen.Cory Gardner, R-Colo., breaks from the bipartisan group of six working on a DACA deal. Its prospects would dim, as would prospects for a spending deal.

A shutdown is less likely if:

  • The president’s rhetoric becomes less sharp. This especially includes if he says the word “bipartisan” or has warm words for Democrats.
  • Key Democrats and Republicans stop commenting about negotiations. This is usually a sign of progress, or a chance for progress.
  • McConnell announces he will allow a “test” vote on a bipartisan DACA bill.
  • Republicans request some other wish list item, such as postponing the medical device tax, and Democrats signal they are open to it.

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