Mick Mulvaney said that it is “very possible” that the shutdown will continue into the next session of congress as the president and Democrats have failed to end a dispute over funding for Mr Trump’s proposed wall on the US-Mexico border.
Speaking on the second day of the shutdown, Mr Mulvaney said that the president will not back down from his demand for wall funding as part of any spending bill that would allow the government to reopen.
Last week, Mr Trump had appeared resigned to the fact that a $5bn specific funding pledge for the wall would not be in any agreement. However, after negative reaction from many of his biggest supporters over the lack of funding for one of Mr Trump’s biggest campaign promises, the president’s stance hardened.
Democrats have refused to sanction spending specifically for the wall but have indicated they are open to an amount for border security in general.
Mr Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday that the White House had moved down from its demand for $5bn and hoped Democrats would move up from their offer for $1.3bn in border security funding.
In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Mr Mulvaney said Mr Trump remained steadfast in his demand for wall funding.
“The president’s not going to not accept money for a border wall,” Mr Mulvaney said.
President Trump made that clear in a tweet of his own on Sunday morning, call for a “god old-fashioned wall”.
“The only way to stop drugs, gangs, human trafficking, criminal elements and much else from coming into our Country is with a Wall or Barrier,” Mr Trump wrote. “Drones and all of the rest are wonderful and lots of fun, but it is only a good old fashioned Wall that works!”
However, the president was “willing to discuss a larger immigration solution”, Mr Mulvaney said, if it helped to end the standoff
Mr Mulvaney also sought to shift blame for the partial shutdown to Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic nominee for speaker of the US House of Representatives, saying she might hold up negotiations to ensure she secures the position.
“I think she’s in that unfortunate position of being beholden to her left wing to where she cannot be seen as agreeing with the president on anything until after she is speaker,” Mr Mulvaney said. “If that’s the case, again, there’s a chance we go into the next congress.”
Ms Pelosi’s spokesman Drew Hammill disputed that account, saying in a statement: “As Mr Mulvaney well knows, House Democrats are united in their opposition to the president’s immoral, expensive and ineffective wall.”
The White House should “stop the posturing and start serious bipartisan talks”, Hammill said.
Illinois’s Dick Durbin, the Senate’s number two Democrat, said in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that his party’s leadership refused to give Mr Trump money for the wall but were open to other border security funding.
“Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have both told the president we are not going to build a wall, period,” Mr Durbin said. “Secondly, if you want to talk about border security, there are many things we can do.”
The Senate, which must pass any deal, is adjourned until Thursday.
“It is very possible that the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new congress,” Mr Mulvaney said.
When speaking to ABC, Mr Mulvaney was asked about Mr Trump’s oft-repeated promise that Mexico would pay for the wall. He pointed, as the president has, towards the newly negotiated trade deal with both Mexico and Canada.
Mr Mulvaney claimed the savings from the deal would indirectly amount to Mexico paying for the wall. When challenged that this is not the same as Mexico directly paying for the wall he conceded that: “Technically… [we] know that it cannot work exactly like that.”
”Department of Homeland Security can’t actually spend money from Mexico,” Mr Mulvaney said. “We have to get it from [the] Treasury.”
Reuters contributed to this report
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