- The Washington Times
Sunday, February 10, 2019

The White House said Sunday it cannot rule out another government shutdown as it gets mixed signals from Democrats and Republicans racing a Friday deadline to fund President Trump’s border-wall demands and keep federal operations humming.

White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said proposed funding is all over the map and that Democrats’ are pushing to cap the number of detainee beds for people who cross into the U.S. illegally, causing talks to stall.

“The government shutdown is still on the table. We do not want it to come to that, but that option is still open to the president and will remain so,” White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday.

Mr. Trump, whose demands for wall money led to a monthlong shutdown, said Democrats must shoulder blame if funding lapses again. He said they’re not offering anything near the $5.7-billion he says is needed for his barrier with Mexico, while raising unnecessary hurdles.

“They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” he tweeted Sunday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby and Sen. Jon Tester, Montana Democrat, said things could still work out — or be a “train wreck.”

“I’ll say 50-50 we get a deal,” Mr. Shelby told Fox.

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth and Rep. Tom Graves, Georgia Republican, were more optimistic, telling ABC’s “This Week” they can still craft a bill that will make it through both chambers.

Mr. Mulvaney said Mr. Trump will wait for Congress’ offer and then figure out how to cobble together the funds he needs to build the wall he promised voters in 2016.

“This is going to get built with or without Congress,” said Mr. Mulvaney, who is serving in an interim capacity.

Mr. Trump has floated the idea of going it alone by declaring an emergency at the southern border to build the wall. Congressional Republicans are skittish about that idea, saying it would set a broad precedent for presidential powers.

Mr. Mulvaney said Mr. Trump also might also search the couch cushions for federal dollars and reprogram them toward the wall.

The simmering fight over the wall sparked a government shutdown from Dec. 22 to Jan. 25 — the longest in history.

Congress passed a stopgap bill to reopen the government and force talks over border security, though federal workers could be furloughed again if talks fail.

“I’m hoping we can get off the dime later today or in the morning,” Mr. Shelby said.

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