With just hours to go before his government will shut down, President Donald Trump started the day by using that prospect to make the case for Republican candidates in November’s midterm elections.
And he teased the possibility of a shutdown in his showman style — “Shutdown coming?”
The House on Thursday night passed a four-week government funding bill that would also extend the Children’s Health Insurance Program by six years and further delay taxes under the Obama-era 2010 health law. It now moves to the Senate, where nearly 10 Democrats will be needed to avert a federal shutdown after the clock reaches midnight on Friday night.
But the GOP president is not so sure they will help Republicans keep the federal lights on.
Democratic leaders in the chambers, backed by a large portion of their conference, have insisted the stopgap include a fix to the Obama-era program that protected individuals brought into the United States illegally by their parents; in recent days, Democrats also have criticized the House GOP stopgap, saying it excludes crucial items for defense and domestic programs.
Watch: Pelosi and Ryan Discuss Possibility of a Shutdown
Trump tweeted that Senate Democrats “want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!”
Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives. Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate – but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2018
White House officials have been coy when asked if Trump is working the phones trying to convince Republicans to hold the line and enough Democrats to join them when the Senate votes with a 60-vote threshold to stop debate on the continuing resolution then a simple-majority vote on whether to send it to Trump’s desk.
The White House announced Friday morning that Trump will remain in Washington until a funding bill is passed. He was scheduled to depart for his Florida resort late in the afternoon.
The president might not be calling members, but he has been sending mixed signals about his view of the stopgap measure and a shutdown.
Trump tried clarifying the muddy situation he created 12 hours earlier by tweeting he wants the House to pass a Republican leadership-crafted stopgap spending bill.
“House of Representatives needs to pass Government Funding Bill tonight. So important for our country – our Military needs it!” Trump tweeted minutes before the House passed the spending measure.
House of Representatives needs to pass Government Funding Bill tonight. So important for our country – our Military needs it!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
Earlier Thursday, Trump appeared to undermine the bill only to have his White House staff issue a cleanup statement expressing his support. And even as White House aides were in the process of doing just that, Trump entered the Pentagon for a briefing saying a shutdown “could very well be.”
Told that Trump had decided to stay in Washington until a bill is passed, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told CNN, “Yes, the president, it’s nice that he stays in Washington. But it’s not where he physically is located that’s the issue. It is that he frankly changes his mind from hour to hour as to what he’s for, and it apparently depends on which staffer talks to him at which time.”— Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.