Trump says he doesn't want a shutdown before midterms as Congress scrambles to fund the government

Key Points
  • President Trump suggests he does not want to shut down the government over immigration policy, after threatening to let funding lapse earlier this year.
  • He tells right-wing website the Daily Caller that "I don't like the idea of shutdowns."
  • Government funding expires at the end of this month, and Republican lawmakers worry a shutdown could hurt them in November's critical midterm elections.
President Donald Trump departs the White House in Washington, August 31, 2018.
Chris Wattie | Reuters

President Donald Trump may not want a government shutdown, after all.

After threatening to let government funding lapse earlier in the year as he seeks funding for his proposed border wall, Trump cast doubts on the likelihood of a shutdown. He told right-wing website the Daily Caller, in remarks published Wednesday, that "I don't like the idea of shutdowns," adding that "I don't see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right now."

Government funding runs out at the end of this month. Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress are worried that a shutdown could hurt the party in November's critical midterm elections. Democrats aim to take a House majority and are considered at least slight favorites to do so.

The president met with GOP lawmakers Wednesday as they scramble to pass a bill to fund the government beyond September. He told reporters during the sit-down that "if it happens, it happens," with regard to a shutdown.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday morning that Trump would not shut down the government.

"That's not in anyone's interest, and he knows that," Ryan told reporters.

In July, the president threatened to let funding lapse if Congress did not authorize the roughly $25 billion he seeks for the proposed barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. The "wall" was a key piece of Trump's election campaign, but he has struggled to get the funding needed to build it. During the campaign, he pledged that Mexico would pay for the wall.

"A Government Shutdown is a very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!" he tweeted in July.

Trump tweet

In March, Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill to avert the last shutdown threat. He threatened to veto that legislation as he sought more money for border security.

Government funding has briefly lapsed twice already this year.

CNBC reported last week, citing three people who have discussed the idea,  that the White House is considering a possible partial shutdown. In this scenario, Trump would sign stand-alone bills to fund the majority of the government, while reserving the right to veto others if they don't include funding for the border wall.