White House Orders Agencies to Prepare for Potential Government ShutdownBy
Administration officials portray steps as routine planning
Temporary funding for U.S. government expires on April 29
The White House ordered federal agencies Friday to began preparations for a potential partial government shutdown after signaling President Donald Trump would demand money for key priorities in legislation to continue funding the government beyond April 29.
But the president and his aides expressed confidence that Congress would work out a spending agreement and that there won’t be any halt in government operations. Administration officials portrayed the order as normal contingency planning, stressing that the previous administration had followed the same practice as funding deadlines approached.
“I think we’re in good shape” on avoiding a deadlock on maintaining funding, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Friday.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the administration is “confident” because negotiations are ongoing and “no one wants a shutdown.”
The push to reach an agreement on spending is complicated by White House efforts to try again for a House vote on replacing Obamacare next week, crowding the congressional schedule with two politically thorny measures the same week.
House approval of an Obamacare repeal would give the president a legislative victory to boast about before his 100th day in office April 29. But failure to reach an agreement on spending legislation would risk marring the anniversary with a government shutdown.
House Republicans plan a conference call Saturday with Ryan and other leaders to discuss the health-care bill as well as spending legislation. Republican Congressional leaders have pushed back against scheduling an Obamacare vote during the week, indicating there isn’t a clear strategy yet for achieving passage.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of Office of Management and Budget, said Thursday Democrats will need to agree to pay for some Trump’s top priorities, including a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, in legislation to fund the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Oct. 1.
Democrats responded harshly to Mulvaney’s remarks Thursday.
“Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand,” said Matt House, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Democrats in both chambers of Congress have some leverage on spending legislation despite being in the minority. In the House, a group of conservatives, led by the Freedom Caucus, are expected to oppose the spending bill currently being negotiated in private, bipartisan talks. Meanwhile, 60 votes are needed in the Senate and Republicans only hold 52. Congress could pass a short-term extension of current funding levels to keep the government open while allowing more time for negotiations.
— With assistance by Margaret Talev, and Billy House