President Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) listen to a reporter's question during the Wednesday Cabinet meeting.

President Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (right) listen to a reporter's question during the Wednesday Cabinet meeting. Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP

Trump on Shutdown: 'It Could Happen'

Lawmakers optimistic they can avoid a funding lapse, but the president casts doubts as deadline looms.

President Trump warned on Wednesday a government shutdown could happen this week, pointing the blame at Democrats for putting too many demands on the spending process.

Trump made his remarks at a Cabinet meeting, sparking fears of an appropriations lapse just days before the current stopgap measure is set to expire. The president said Democrats' push to ensure legal residency for immigrants with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status was jeopardizing the appropriations process.

"It could happen," Trump said when asked about shutdown. “The Democrats are really looking at something that could be very dangerous for our country. They are looking at shutting down.”

Trump has twice this year flirted with the idea of allowing the government to shut down, saying the country could benefit from it.

Congressional Democrats have waffled on whether they would approve another stopgap measure before resolving the immigration issue, which Trump sparked earlier this year when he announced he was ending the program that protected the individuals from deportation. Some Democratic lawmakers have said they would not support any spending measure until Congress votes on a measure to provide certainty to immigrants with DACA status.

Republican leadership is pushing a two-week continuing resolution to keep agencies open past Friday, with hopes of reaching another stopgap to tide the government over into 2018. Whether Republicans can pass that measure in the House without Democratic support is unclear, as dozens of conservative lawmakers have expressed initial skepticism with the proposal. The bill would certainly need at least some Democrats on board to pass the Senate, where it would require 60 votes. The House Rules Committee is set to move the bill to fund agencies through Dec. 22 forward on Wednesday, setting up a vote on the House floor Thursday.

Lawmakers took a more optimistic approach than Trump on Wednesday, pledging to work across the aisle to avoid a shutdown. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the president was “the only person talking about a government shutdown” and she hoped to work with him “to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said a shutdown would not occur.

The White House and agencies across government are taking the steps to prepare for a shutdown that could begin Saturday, but the full force of which would not be felt until Monday. The Office of Management and Budget held a call last week to tell agencies to begin shutdown preparation, and more than two dozen agencies have submitted updated plans detailing which employees they would furlough if an appropriations lapse occurs.

Even if Congress deals with the more immediate shutdown threat, they must then agree to a spending package for the remainder of fiscal 2018. As part of the forthcoming negotiations, Congress must reach an agreement to raise the 2011 Budget Control Act spending caps or risk a sequestration. Republicans are reportedly planning to first raise the spending limits for the Defense Department, but Democrats have repeatedly insisted any budget deal must simultaneously raise caps for both defense and non-defense appropriations. Other outstanding issues, such as health insurance cost sharing and Trump’s proposed wall along segments of the U.S.-Mexico border, could also upend negotiations as lawmakers attempt to reach a deal on full-year spending.

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