Two days after the record-long shutdown ended, the White House made clear on Jan. 27, that President Donald Trump is prepared to shut down the government again without a border money deal from Congress.
The president’s standoff with Democrats on Capitol Hill is far from over and the clock is ticking — the spending bill Trump signed on Jan. 25 funds the government agencies that had been shut down for 35 days only until Feb. 15.
It’s unclear if the Democrats will budge. Trump seemed girded for battle, sending out a series of online messages that foreshadowed the upcoming fight with lawmakers. “BUILD A WALL & CRIME WILL FALL!” he tweeted.
Is Trump prepared to shut down the government again in three weeks?
“Yeah, I think he actually is,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said. “He doesn’t want to shut the government down, let’s make that very clear. He doesn’t want to declare a national emergency.”
But Mulvaney said that at “the end of the day, the president’s commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it with or without Congress.”
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the Democratic leadership in the House, said his colleagues are looking for “evidence-based” legislation.
“Shutdowns are not legitimate negotiating tactics when there’s a public policy disagreement between two branches of government,” he said.
The lynchpin in the standoff is Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his prized wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, a project Democrats consider an ineffective, wasteful monument to a ridiculous Trump campaign promise.
California Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the leading Republican in the House, said Democrats have funded border barriers in the past and are refusing this time simply because Trump is asking for it.
“The president is the only one who has been reasonable in these negotiations,” he said.
Mulvaney wouldn’t directly answer whether Trump would take less than $5.7 billion, but indicated the president was willing to negotiate.
Mulvaney said Trump agreed to temporarily end the shutdown because some Democrats have stepped forward, publicly and privately, to say they agree with Trump’s plan to better secure the border.
“Everybody wants to look at this and say the president lost,” Mulvaney said. “We’re still in the middle of negotiations.”