With less than 48 hours to avoid a government shutdown, President Donald Trump on Thursday voiced his opposition to including in a government funding bill two items that are vitally important for Democrats.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated Thursday morning that Democrats want a still-emerging spending measure for the rest of fiscal 2017 to include funds for financially struggling Puerto Rico. Democrats also say they have secured an agreement from the Trump administration to continue paying subsidies to health insurers — though Trump officials say those payments will not necessarily continue permanently.
White House officials have said they have been negotiating well with Republicans and Democrats, arguing that no one — including the president — wants a government shutdown at midnight Friday. Lawmakers involved in the spending talks have signaled a deal is close, and they have prepared a stopgap spending measure through May 5 to give them more time to ink the deal and process a bill.
Enter Trump, who took to Twitter on Thursday to blast Democrats — just as the negotiations are entering the most serious phase. GOP leaders and the White House will need some Senate Democrats to help pass whatever fiscal 2017 compromise emerges next week. House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, citing past omnibus spending votes, said he expects some Democratic votes in that chamber will also be required.
Around 7:30 a.m., Trump threw an elbow at the opposition party, writing: “The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!”
The Democrats want to shut government if we don't bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
Pelosi told reporters Thursday that Democrats still had “outstanding areas of concern — Puerto Rico, disaster assistance … and then we have the poison pills.”
Three hours later, Trump posted that he wants to “help” miners but said “Democrats are blocking their healthcare” under the fiscal 2017 spending measure.
I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
The new stopgap would also extend for one week a provision in the previous continuing resolution related to health care benefits for retired coal miners. A more substantial fix for the miners’ pension fund is being worked on as part of a final spending package.
Trump later declared his focus on securing borders and rebuilding the military while “Democrats want to shut down the government.”
Why? “Politics!” he tweeted.
I promise to rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
What's more important? Rebuilding our military - or bailing out insurance companies? Ask the Democrats.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
He also accused Democrats of trying to put U.S. troops at risk by pushing for funding for insurance industry “donors.”
Democrats jeopardizing the safety of our troops to bail out their donors from insurance companies. It is time to put #AmericaFirst🇺🇸— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
Trump wasn’t finished. He then accused Democrats of threatening to shut down National Parks just as American families are booking vacations to visit them. That tweet suggested that any shutdown could last months, into the summer — something no one on Capitol Hill has mentioned.
As families prepare for summer vacations in our National Parks - Democrats threaten to close them and shut down the government. Terrible!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 27, 2017
Pelosi weighed in with her view of the true meaning of the president’s Twitter rants.
“When they say something about us, they are projecting their own views,” Pelosi said of Republican criticism on the Democrats’ negotiating tactics. “When [Trump] is saying something, he is saying, ‘This is what I would do.’ He is projecting his own bad intentions.”
Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner fired off his own tweet with some advice for the president: “Don’t tweet. Lead.”
Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) April 27, 2017
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn declined to directly answer whether Trump’s tweets were helpful in negotiations.
“They haven’t been entirely cooperative but I’m hoping to get to a good place,” the Texas Republican said of Senate Democrats. “I didn’t hear all of what Sen. [Charles E.] Schumer said but he sounded like he’s optimistic about appropriations. So we’ll have a short-term [continuing resolution] while we process the paperwork and get it done.”
To be sure, a final pact on the fiscal 2017 spending measure is likely days away.
“More progress needs to be made on some of our priorities and we continue to be concerned about the poison pill riders that are in the bill,” Pelosi said, citing riders that would undermine women’s access to health care and the Dodd Frank financial overhaul and fiduciary rule.
Lindsey McPherson, Bridget Bowman, Rema Rahman and Ryan McCrimmon contributed to this report.