Trump and Ryan: Democrats want a shutdown to distract from tax bill success

Key Points
  • President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan accuse Democrats of hoping to shut down the government to distract from Republicans' passage of the first major tax overhaul in decades.
  • Ryan says Congress will push to pass a "clean" funding bill to avert a government shutdown by midnight Friday.
House Speaker Paul Ryan: The Democrats would love nothing more than a government shutdown

President Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan accused Democrats on Thursday of hoping to shut down the government to distract from Republicans' passage of the first major tax overhaul in decades.

Congress faces a midnight Friday deadline for a funding agreement to avert a government shutdown.

In a tweet, Trump said Democrats "want a SHUTDOWN" to "distract from the very popular, just passed" tax bill. "Don't let this happen."

Trump tweet

Ryan expressed a similar sentiment on Thursday morning.

"I think the Democrats are going to try to play some partisan games today because they would love nothing more than to see a government shutdown, blame us for having it, and step on our tax cut message, tax reform message," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Congressional Republicans approved their massive tax overhaul on Wednesday, fulfilling a key goal for Ryan and Trump. Democrats have called the legislation a giveaway to corporations at the expense of the middle class.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Getty Images

While Trump called the legislation "popular," opinion polls have broadly shown that more respondents disapprove of the GOP plan than approve of it. Republicans contend that more people will warm to the tax bill when they see its effects next year.

Legislation unveiled by the House on Thursday would fund the government through Jan. 19. If Congress cannot pass a funding measure, the government will shut down early Saturday.

Ryan said Congress will push to pass a "clean" short-term continuing resolution funding bill to avert the shutdown.

"We're just bringing a clean, what we call vanilla CR — no games, no sneaky things. Just a continuing resolution to get us through this moment to get us into next year," Ryan told CNBC. "It's as clean and simple as possible. It's what the Senate on both sides of the aisle are asking us for."

The legislation Congress hopes to pass this week includes $2.85 billion in funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program. It would also include money for diabetes programs and community health centers, as well as extend the foreign surveillance warrant program.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday said he does not think members of Congress want to see a shutdown.

"No one wants to do it," he said at an event hosted by news site Axios.

Democrats have pushed to protect spending on social safety net and health-care programs as part of a bill to fund the government. They have also pushed for protections for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

"Republicans have spent the entire year trying to take health care away from millions and raise taxes on the middle class," said Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Democrats are simply asking for action on the broad set of bipartisan priorities before the Congress."

He added: "Republicans hold the House, the Senate and the White House. If they need Democratic votes, then they should incorporate the bipartisan proposals we are calling for into the continuing resolution."

A spokesperson for the Senate's top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, did not immediately respond to requests to comment on Ryan's remarks.