President Trump on Friday downplayed prospects of a government shutdown next week, with a deadline looming to conclude weeks of negotiations between Republican leaders and Democrats in Congress to pass a stopgap spending bill.
“I think we’re in good shape,” Trump said in response to a question from a reporter in the Oval Office as he greeted Aya Hijazi, an Egyptian American charity worker who was released from a Cairo prison after Trump intervened in her case with Egypt’s leader.
Trump’s comments came a day after White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he hopes to use negotiations to keep the government open past April 28 to force Democrats to back some funding for creating a new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as well as other Trump priorities.
That was widely viewed as a risky move that could provoke a showdown with congressional Democrats.
Another potential complication is Trump’s desire to see House action next week as well on a revived bill to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. Trump is pressing for action ahead of his 100th day in office, but Republicans leaders have said it remains unclear whether they will be able to secure enough votes for passage.
During a briefing with reporters on Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is pursuing several priorities during the budget process.
“I think we’ve made it very clear that we want border wall funding, we want greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities,” Spicer said. “We want hiring of immigration agents, and we want $30 billion to infuse the military budget. Those are our priorities.”
But Spicer suggested the administration has some flexibility.
“That being said, I don’t think it’s synonymous with — we’ll continue to negotiate and work with the leadership,” he said. “But no one wants a shutdown, we want to keep it going.”
Mulvaney said Thursday that the White House would be open to funding some of the Democrats’ priorities — such as paying insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act — if Democrats agree to fund some of the more controversial parts of President Trump’s agenda, notably the border wall.
Negotiations among congressional leaders so far have excluded talk of the border wall, which Republicans have argued should be taken up later to keep the government open.
“We have our list of priorities,” Mulvaney said at an event hosted by the Institute of International Finance. “We want more money for defense. We want to build a border wall. We want more money for immigration enforcement, law enforcement.”
Mulvaney stopped short of saying that the White House would refuse to sign a spending agreement that does not include those priorities, but he made clear that he expects Democrats to reopen talks.
Kelsey Snell and Damian Paletta contributed to this report.