WASHINGTON — To avoid a government shutdown, U.S. President Donald Trump would sign a stopgap spending bill, so long as it does not restrict his ability to build his border wall, a senior White House adviser told reporters Tuesday.
With government funding due to expire Nov. 22 and talks to reach a bipartisan spending deal dragging, Congress is expected to draft another stopgap spending bill. Trump’s legislative affairs director, Eric Ueland, said Trump is likely to sign a continuing resolution, or CR, into December.
“He wants to see a clean CR that does not impede him in any way or tie his hands in carrying out his policy priorities,” Ueland told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday.
The comments come as Democrats and Republicans appear to have narrowed their differences on the length of the CR. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have discussed Dec. 31 as a goal to reach an agreement to fund the government.
To kick-start funding talks, which have stalled around the U.S.-Mexico border wall and funding allocations, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said he would like a face-to-face meeting with House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
Shelby said he would prefer a continuing resolution that’s free of policy riders. But if Trump were given a CR he was disinclined to sign because it contained border wall restrictions, Shelby explained, the lawmaker would advise the president to avoid a shutdown.
“I would say to anybody, including the president, let’s don’t shut the government down,” Shelby told reporters Tuesday.
Though Shelby had floated the idea of a CR into the spring, he said Tuesday he is in favor of a CR that ends in December to buy time for talks to progress.
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said the White House has been making shifting demands.
“The difficult thing is it’s almost as though the White House can’t focus or don’t want to focus," Leahy said. "Why don’t we just do it all, bring it up and say: ‘Vote it up or vote it down.’ ”
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.