President Donald Trump said Wednesday that if a government shutdown occurs, it will come at the hands of Democrats, but Republican leadership is more worried about rifts within its own party causing a problem. If no agreement is reached, the government will run out of money on Friday.
"It could happen. The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country. They are looking at shutting down," he told reporters in the White House. "They want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country."
But GOP leadership is struggling to get everyone on the same page, particularly the House Freedom Caucus whose members want promises that Democrats will not be allowed to insist on non-defense budget increases.
Freedom Caucus members appear torn over whether to back the measure to keep the focus on tax reform — or use their leverage to try to win a promise from leaders to take a harder line on year-end spending.
Others are miffed that the Senate has taken no action on spending plans the House finalized several weeks ago.
Even allies of Speaker Paul Ryan, including appropriators like Rep. Tom Graves, despise the two-week strategy being pushed by the top. Graves said in an interview that short-term funding bills are a tactic of the minority and argued that Republicans are “squandering” their power of the purse.
Republican leaders met this week to float a temporary fix, but it is unclear the plan is feasible:
During a closed-door GOP conference meeting Tuesday, lawmakers discussed the idea of the House passing a spending bill that includes a full year of spending for the Pentagon — but only for the Pentagon — in a week or two. Conservatives, however, don't believe GOP leaders will stick with that position when it's rejected by the Senate and want a commitment that they will reject any spending bill later this year that increases spending for non-defense programs.
Democrats have already said they will not consider a Pentagon-only bill.
“We have to have domestic priorities also,” Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told reporters Tuesday when asked about the GOP's full-year defense plan. McCaskill said she has a “long list” of Democratic priorities, including protections for DREAMers, funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and an agreement on preserving the Obamacare markets, though she added that she'd need to see the House bill to make a final decision.