washington Government ‘needs a good shutdown,’ Trump tweets
President Donald Trump declared Tuesday the U.S. government “needs a good shutdown” this fall to fix a “mess” in the Senate, signaling on Twitter his displeasure with a bill to keep operations running.
But Republican leaders and Trump himself also praised the stopgap measure as a major accomplishment and a sign of his masterful negotiating with Democrats.
On the defensive, Trump and his allies issued a flurry of contradictory statements ahead of key votes in Congress on a $1.1 trillion spending bill to keep the government at full speed through September. After advocating for a future shutdown, the president hailed the budget agreement as a boost for the military, border security and other top priorities.
“This is what winning looks like,” Trump said during a ceremony honoring the Air Force Academy football team. “Our Republican team had its own victory – under the radar,” Trump said, calling the bill “a clear win for the American people.” Late in the day, the White House said he would indeed sign the bill.
Yet Trump’s morning tweets hardly signaled a win and came after Democrats gleefully claimed victory in denying him much of his wish list despite being the minority party. They sounded a note of defeat, blaming Senate rules for a budget plan that merited closing most government operations.
But the White House then rallied to make the case to the public – and perhaps to a president who famously hates losing – that he actually had prevailed in the negotiations. Budget Director Mick Mulvaney briefed reporters twice within a few hours to adamantly declare the administration’s success. He was joined at his second briefing by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. And Trump himself used the normally non-political football ceremony to proclaim his own success.
Mulvaney, criticizing Democrats for celebrating, said Trump was “frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out and tried to spike the football to make him look bad.”
Asked how the president would define a “good shutdown,” Mulvaney suggested “it would be one that fixes this town.”
Trump’s embrace of such a disruptive event came days after he accused Senate Democrats of seeking that same outcome and obstructing majority Republicans during budget negotiations.
Lawmakers announced Sunday they had reached an agreement to avoid a shutdown until Oct. 1 – a deal that does not include several provisions sought by Trump, including money for a border wall.
It also came at the start of a week in which the House is considering a possible vote on a health care overhaul that would repeal and replace Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The spending bill is set for a House vote today, when it’s likely to win widespread bipartisan support, though a host of GOP conservatives will oppose the measure, calling it a missed opportunity.
House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin defended the package, calling it an “important first step in the right direction” that included a “big down payment” on border security and the military. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said the bill “delivers some important conservative wins.”
In fact, the White House on Monday had praised the deal as a win for the nation’s military, health benefits for coal miners and other Trump priorities.
But by Tuesday morning, the president sounded off on Twitter.
“The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” He added that we “either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 [percent]. Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”