President Donald Trump on Wednesday again raised the possibility of a U.S. government shutdown by week’s end – blaming Democrats for that possible outcome – one day before he is due to host Republican and Democratic congressional leaders for talks on a spending bill.
Trump’s warning came as some of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives pushed for increases in military spending along with either a freeze or reduction in domestic programs.
Their bid is likely to be rejected by Democrats, who make up a minority in Congress, and could further complicate behind-the-scenes negotiations by congressional leaders that have been going on for months aimed at figuring out government spending for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.
A temporary spending bill passed by Congress is due to run out on Friday. If Congress cannot agree on a measure to continue the funding, parts of the federal government could shut down.
As a condition of backing a new spending measure, Democrats have demanded legislative protections for the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States. But Trump has criticized that demand, saying it could set the stage for an impasse.
“The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They are looking at shutting down.”
In response, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “President Trump is the only person talking about a government shutdown. Democrats are hopeful the president will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open.”
The jockeying so close to Friday’s midnight deadline added suspense in Washington while Republican congressional leaders labored to demonstrate that they can govern and spare the country the chaos of a government shutdown at Christmas time that likely would not sit well with voters.
(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Trott)