White House downplays shutdown chances

Andrew Taylor
Associated Press

Washington – The White House said Tuesday that it’s not interested in a government shutdown when a temporary government-wide spending bill expires Nov. 21.

White House congressional liason Eric Ueland told reporters that President Donald Trump would sign another short-term stopgap spending bill to prevent a shutdown, so long as Democrats don’t try to tie Trump’s hands on funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall .

Ueland said Trump wants “the spending process to continue to unfold and the government to continue to be funded.” Under a stopgap spending bill, Trump would be able to shift money from Pentagon anti-drug accounts and use other transfer powers to siphon money toward the border fence.

In this Sept. 16, 2019 file photo, President Donald Trump speaks before leaving the White House in Washington

Trump on Sunday refused to rule out a shutdown when asked about it but there’s no appetite for one among his allies on Capitol Hill. There has been ample speculation about a potential shutdown but no evidence one is actually brewing.

At issue are the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the day-to-day operating budgets of federal agencies. Trump’s top priority in the process is to obtain $5 billion or more to continue construction of his long-promised border wall, but lawmakers in both parties are more interested in assorted military and domestic agency accounts.

To make progress, the multi-party talks are focused on distributing spending increases from July’s hard-won budget and debt agreement among the 12 bills. It’ll be a challenge for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. – who backs a catchall omnibus spending bill – to win votes from Democratic progressives if it contains significant wall funding. On the other hand, Trump promises a veto if his wall funding demands aren’t addressed.