Amid efforts among congressional negotiators to reach a funding deal by Friday, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said a second government shutdown cannot be completely ruled out.
He noted that if funding for President Donald Trump’s promised wall is not included in the agreement, the government will close again when funding lapses in a matter of days. He also blamed Democrats for the situation, saying they could not decide between the “hard-core left wing,” which has deemed any funding for Trump’s signature border wall as a non-starter, and a more moderate faction that is open to compromise.
“Let’s say the hard-core left wing of the Democrat Party prevails in this negotiation and they put a bill on the president’s desk with, say, zero money for the wall, or $800 million, an absurdly low number. How does he sign that?” Mulvaney said on “Meet the Press.”
“You cannot take a shutdown off the table, and you cannot take $5.7 billion off the table,” he added, referring to Trump’s initial price tag for the wall.
Mulvaney stressed, however, that what is most likely to happen is that negotiators strike a deal which is somewhere in between, enough for the President to sign it and then “find the money someplace else.”
According to Senator Richard Shelby, the chairman of the Appropriations Committee, “talks are stalled” and there’s a ”50/50 chance” that Congress can reach a deal to avoid shutting the government down for the second time in two months.
On Sunday, House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer criticized Mulvaney for the comments, saying they were “irresponsible and alarming” and accused him of “threatening another unnecessary and dangerous government shutdown.”
Hoyer pointed out that congressional Democrats will continue to oppose funding for “a costly and unnecessary wall that does not make us safer or address the humanitarian challenges on our border.”
President Trump likewise expressed skepticism about the likelihood of striking a deal before the Friday deadline and blamed the deadlock on Democrats.
“I don’t think the Dems on the Border Committee are being allowed by their leaders to make a deal. They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” he tweeted.