Investigations will not hold up must-pass debt ceiling hike, government funding bills: Senior White House official

Key Points
  • Critical legislation, including a debt ceiling hike and government spending bills, will continue to move forward despite President Donald Trump's claim that he cannot negotiate with congressional Democrats while they continue to investigate him, a senior White House official confirmed to CNBC on Wednesday.
  • The news followed Trump's abrupt cancellation of infrastructure talks with Democratic leadership, after which the president claimed, "you can't investigate and legislate simultaneously."
  • Trump's remarks raised concerns among investors that such a moratorium could affect legislation that is considered critical to maintaining U.S. economic stability.
President Donald Trump walks out of the Oval Office before speaking about Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election in the Rose Garden at the White House May 22, 2019 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla | Getty Images

Certain must-pass pieces of legislation, including a debt ceiling hike and critical government spending bills, will move forward despite President Donald Trump's claim Wednesday that he cannot negotiate with congressional Democrats while they continue to investigate him, a senior White House official told CNBC.

"Debt ceiling is must-pass, as is Govt funding," the official wrote in a text message to CNBC after Trump's dramatic walkout on a meeting with Democratic congressional leadership. "So no, that isn't precluded by what happened today."

Earlier in the day, Trump abruptly left a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., at the White House, telling reporters moments later that he would not negotiate on legislation with Democrats while he was still under investigation by several committees.

Wednesday's meeting was supposed to be the second official sit-down between the president and Democratic leaders specifically focused on infrastructure.

"I walked into the room and I told Sen. Schumer and Speaker Pelosi, 'I want to do infrastructure' ... but we can't do it under these circumstances," Trump said at a hastily arranged Rose Garden event.

The cancellation of Wednesday's infrastructure talks, and a subsequent tweet by the president claiming that, "you can't investigate and legislate simultaneously," raised concerns among investors about just how deeply the president intended to dig in, and how this newly declared moratorium on negotiating with Democrats could affect bills that are considered critical to maintaining U.S. economic stability, such as hiking the nation's borrowing limit.

The debt ceiling increase that will be necessary later this year to keep the U.S. Treasury from missing debt payments, or from defaulting on its debt, is currently being hammered out as part of broader fiscal 2020 budget negotiations on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a congressional committee that he hopes a deal to raise the debt ceiling will be reached before the end of the summer.

"From my meetings with senior leadership, everyone understands this issue, and I hope we never get to the point, late summer, where we're even talking about these things," Mnuchin said. "I would hope for the benefit of the American people that we raise the debt limit soon."

The prospect of a deal between the Republican-majority Senate and the Democratic-controlled House to both fund the government and raise the debt ceiling seemed to improve this week, after Senate GOP leaders said they had personally lobbied the president on the issue.

"I had a really good session with the president, just the two of us, about a week ago about the options available to us when it comes to government spending over the next two years," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters Tuesday.

He added: "A negotiated agreement with the House Democrats is the best of three alternatives, the other two being arguing back and forth over the length of a [short-term spending bill] for God only knows how long, or a sequester that hits defense with about a $71 billion cut at the end of the year."