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Trump’s frustration with budget compromise has him considering merits of a ‘shutdown’

By Michael A. Memoli • May 2, 2017 at 4:20 PM

WASHINGTON — Congress looks set to enact a bipartisan spending bill to avert an imminent government shutdown. But President Donald Trump is suggesting he’d actually welcome a shutdown the next time around.

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump seemed to lament the $1 trillion funding package he signed off on over the weekend — one that largely preserves funding for items he promised to slash but does not advance his promised border wall — as full of concessions to Democrats.

"The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!" the president tweeted.

Then he went further _ calling either for Senate Republicans to ditch what's left of the filibuster once and for all, or for voters to increase his party's numbers in the chamber. He capped that with an unusual remark that seemed to embrace a shutdown as a way to push his agenda.

"(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!"

The White House often says a controversial Trump tweet "speaks for itself" but the comments invite further questions _ including why the president believes a government shutdown would be beneficial at a time when Republicans control the White House and both chambers in Congress.

It's also unclear if Trump is calling for an actual government shutdown — he put the term in quotes — or what he has in mind if not. The last federal shutdown occurred during a standoff between President Barack Obama and the GOP in 2013 over health care, lasting 16 days.

In Congress, neither side of the aisle wants a repeat of that.

If the House and Senate do pass the spending bill this week as expected, it will fund government operations through the close of its fiscal year on Sept. 30. White House officials are attempting to tout the spending deal as a win for the president and his priorities, and have said he would be in even a stronger negotiating position this fall.

"I'd be hard-pressed to figure how we could fund more of the priorities," Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Monday. "And we're hopeful that we can see as we go through the 2018 process is more of a Republican-driven process, especially in the House, which would be a little bit more typical."

But it’s unclear just what else Republicans will be capable of passing, given ongoing internal divisions and an emboldened Democratic minority.

Trump has been increasingly focused on the filibuster hurdle in a spate of interviews timed to coincide with his 100th day in office, which fell on Saturday. He called Senate rules "archaic" in an interview on Fox News.

But while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was willing to deploy the so-called "nuclear option" to change Senate rules and allow Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to advance with a simple majority vote, he and other Republicans have indicated that they are not inclined to lower the voting threshold to overcome a filibuster for legislation.

"There’s no sentiment to change the legislative filibuster," McConnell told reporters last month.

The Trump administration is set to release a more detailed budget blueprint for 2018 later this month, part of a process that Republicans hope will be a vehicle to enact a far-reaching tax plan. First, they still hope to restart an effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.


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