Oval Office squabble raises fears of shutdown


NOTE: This article first appeared on FCW.com. 

A government shutdown appears more likely after a White House photo op devolved into public squabble as President Donald Trump and top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer argued on camera about a government funding compromise. During the 17-minute exchange, Trump said he would be "proud" to shut down the government if he doesn't get more money for a promised border wall.

The highly unusual public argument took place on the heels of a closed door meeting between the president, Vice President Mike Pence and Minority Leaders Rep. Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Funding for the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, State, Transportation and Treasury; the Environmental Protection Agency; and others are set to expire on Dec. 21 if several appropriations bills or another continuing resolution are not passed and signed into law.

A 1.9 percent federal civilian pay raise, offered in the Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, has yet to be passed.

"I don't think we should have a debate in front of the press on this," Pelosi said the press event spiraled into a fight over the viability of Congress passing an appropriations package that includes $5 billion for a border wall.

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security," Trump said. "I'm not going to blame you for it. I'll take the mantle of shutting down."

While Trump characterized the public display as government transparency, Pelosi countered that, "it's not transparency when we're not stipulating to a set of facts." She also noted that the current Republican majority in the House would have a hard time rounding up the 218 voted needed to pass a funding package that includes wall funding. 

"We have solutions that will pass the House and the Senate right now and will not shut down the government," Schumer said. "And that's what we're urging you to do."

House and Senate Democrats have previously proposed that Trump sign a bill negotiated between both parties in Congress that includes $1.6 billion for wall-related funding or pass six of the seven outstanding appropriations bills and fund DHS for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 under a continuing resolution.

"We gave the president two options that would keep the government open. It's his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down," Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement released after the meeting.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.

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