As congressional negotiators moved closer to agreeing to a spending deal Tuesday to avoid the second lapse in appropriations in three weeks, President Trump appeared to advocate a completely different approach.
Trump, speaking at an event to discuss gang members immigrating to the United States, said he would support forcing agencies to shutter if “loopholes” in immigration laws that he said were responsible for allowing criminals to enter the country were not closed.
“If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown,” Trump said at the White House event. “We'll do a shutdown. And it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of.”
The president went on to say that “unrelated but still related,” if Democrats do not “want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown.”
The comments came as the House was poised to pass a six-week continuing resolution Tuesday evening along party lines, while Senate leaders from both parties said they were making headway in negotiations for a larger, bipartisan spending deal.
“We are closer than we have ever been,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday morning. He and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met later in the day to continue to hash out a plan, which could involve attaching the agreement to raise the spending caps established by the 2011 Budget Control Act to a continuing resolution and sending it back the House. Such a measure would allow appropriators time to set line-by-line funding for federal agencies under the new budget agreement.
Tuesday was not the first time Trump spoke out in support of a shutdown. In May, the president said, “Our country needs a good shutdown.” During the three-day shutdown last month, Trump administration officials said they would minimize the impact of the funding lapse but still castigated Democrats for playing politics with national security.
Earlier on Tuesday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., struck a different tone than the president. He did not rule out the possibility that agencies will again be forced to close their doors but said he and the American people agreed such an outcome was not “productive.”
“Unfortunately, last time we had to have a shutdown,” McCarthy said. “Hopefully we will not be in that situation again.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va, whose district includes thousands of federal employees and who attended the immigration event at the White House, expressed her disagreement directly to the president.
“We don't need a government shutdown on this,” Comstock said. "I think both sides have learned that a government shutdown is bad."