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After Trump calls for a government shutdown, White House pins the blame on Democrats

  • Trump wrote that the U.S. "needs a good 'shutdown' in September."
  • The White House's Mick Mulvaney says Democrats tried to "spike the football."
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says he does not want a shutdown.

Just hours after President Donald Trump's tweeted a call for a "good 'shutdown'" of the U.S. government, the White House blamed his threat on Democrats.

In Tuesday morning tweets, the president contended that a bipartisan spending agreement — which funds the government through Sept. 30 — shows that Republicans must either get more senators elected or change the Senate's rules so they can push spending through with only a majority vote, rather than the 60 currently required. He then wrote that the country "needs a good 'shutdown' in September" to fix the "mess."

During a White House briefing about the budget deal Tuesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was asked repeatedly why Trump threatened a shutdown. He responded that it was Democratic lawmakers who wanted the government to close so they could "make this administration look like it couldn't function."

Donald Trump
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
Donald Trump

"I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats, and they went out to try and spike the football and make him look bad," Mulvaney said, by way of claiming that Democrats were declaring victory in budget negotiations. "And I get that frustration, because I think it's a terrible posture for the Democrats to take. … It doesn't surprise me at all that his frustrations were manifested in that way."

Mulvaney did not point to specific instances of Democrats wanting a shutdown, beyond highlighting that some lawmakers said they would not vote for a funding proposal that included money for new portions of a wall on the southern border.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday that he does not want to see a shutdown in the fall.

Mulvaney: Let's end 'business as usual'

The compromise bill Congress is expected to pass this week — which Trump is slated to sign into law — would fund the government through Sept. 30 and keep the government running beyond Friday's deadline. Trump on Tuesday threatened a shutdown beyond the September deadline, and Mulvaney said he had "no problem" with that scenario if it changes what he called "business as usual" in Congress.

"We've got a lot to do between now and September. I don't anticipate a shutdown in September, but if the Democrats aren't going to behave any better than they have in the last couple of
days, it may be inevitable," the budget director said.

Schumer and other Democrats spoke positively about the bipartisan deal Monday, because it did not include as much border security funding as Trump sought, among other things they highlighted. Republicans quickly flipped the script Tuesday, with Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Mulvaney talking up a $21 billion increase in defense spending and a rise in border security funding.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that almost no senators would support removing the legislative filibuster, which is the procedural tool that can be overcome only by a so-called supermajority of 60 votes.

Mulvaney contended that a "good" shutdown — as Trump described — would be one that "fixes" Washington. He added that closing the government is not "desirable" due to the potential for federal workers to have their pay withheld.