President Donald Trump warned that there could be a government shutdown Saturday, weighing in on Congress’ budget stalemate after his senior aides had tried to exude confidence a deal could be reached.
Trump, speaking at a meeting with his cabinet, tried to blame Democrats for a budget lapse, though House Republicans are currently squabbling over whether to seek a two-week or a three-week spending bill to fund the government after Friday. GOP leaders had hoped to pass a bill that would fund the government through Dec. 22, but so far they have not reached an agreement.
“It could happen,” Trump said of the possibility of a partial government shutdown.
There hasn’t been a shutdown since 2013, and there has never been a government shutdown when the same political party controls the White House, the House of Representatives and the Senate.
House Democrats have balked at efforts to reach a short-term spending deal because they want to pass a bipartisan bill to protect from deportation up to 1 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.
That puts enormous pressure on House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to build a coalition of House Republicans to pass the short-term bill. A number of lawmakers in the conservative House Freedom Caucus have objected to the idea of funding the government for two weeks, saying they’d rather pass a bill that funds the government through the end of the year.
Trump blamed the impasse on Democrats.
“The Democrats maybe will want to shut down the country because they want people flowing into our country, but I want people coming into our country but I want to vet those people and I want to vet them very carefully,” Trump said.
Government operations are funded through midnight on Friday. If a funding bill isn’t passed by then, there would be a partial government shutdown, with many government offices closing as well as national parks and a number of other operations. During the last government shutdown, 800,000 federal employees were placed on furlough, which means they are sent home indefinitely without pay.
Trump has several times called for a government shutdown, saying it could be necessary to shake up Washington. But on Wednesday he placed blame on Democrats for allowing budget talks to drag this close to the deadline.