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Hours before shutdown, Trump tweet creates confusion

The WH releases a statement saying that Pres. Trump supports the GOP resolution to keep the government funded, after a morning tweet suggests he opposes it.

Posted: Jan 19, 2018 11:53 AM
Updated: Jan 19, 2018 11:53 AM

President Donald Trump took to Twitter on Friday morning to express his displeasure with Senate Democrats with hours to go before the government potentially shuts down.

"Government Funding Bill past last night in the House of Representatives," Trump wrote. "Now Democrats are needed if it is to pass in the Senate - but they want illegal immigration and weak borders. Shutdown coming? We need more Republican victories in 2018!"

The government is set to run out of funding at midnight Friday. House Republicans passed a continuing resolution Thursday evening to fund the government, but the stopgap spending measure's path in the Senate as that deadline looms is unclear. The legislation needs 60 votes to pass the chamber to break a filibuster, meaning Republican leaders could need as many a dozen Democrats or more to vote in its favor. Several Democrats have already announced their opposition to the bill.

The President was scheduled to travel to Florida on Friday evening to spend the weekend at Mar-a-Lago on the one-year anniversary of his Inauguration, but a White House spokesperson told CNN Friday morning that the President will not travel until a bill to fund the government is passed. The decision was discussed at a morning staff meeting, a senior White House official said.

"He can't go until it's done," the official said.

The optics of being in Mar-a-Lago during a government shutdown would be terrible, the official said, but so far the contingency plan being most discussed is delaying departure until Saturday.

Supporters from across the country have flown into Palm Beach for a gala fundraiser Saturday commemorating Trump's first year in office. Trump wants to go, but whether he will do so is up in the air.

The White House remains optimistic the stopgap measure will pass and a shutdown will be averted, although the path forward is unclear.

"I still think we're going to get a deal," a senior administration official said, even if it comes at "midnight."

Trump worked the phones Thursday, talking to GOP leaders and calling into the House Freedom Caucus' afternoon meeting from Air Force One. But one GOP source close to the process complained that Trump did not spend enough time working the phones to find the votes for the continuing resolution.

"He didn't weigh in until right before the (House) vote," the source said, describing it as "annoying."

But another senior administration official said Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, worked the phones until late Thursday night as the House passed their measure and the Senate began to take up the legislation.

Asked whether there is openness to a short-term funding measure, the official reiterated that that the White House still wants a two-year bill, but added, "we're open to keeping the government open."

Trump is "resolute, decisive and engaged" in the face of a potential shutdown, the official said.

The President sought to frame the debate ahead of the vote, warning of the impact of a shutdown on the military.

"If for any reason it shuts down, the worst thing is what happens to our military," Trump told reporters outside the Pentagon Thursday. "We're rebuilding our military. We're making it -- we're bringing it to a level that it's never been at, and the worst thing is for our military. We don't want that to happen,"

Trump added: "We are going to fund our military; we're going to have a military like we've never had before because we've just about, just about never needed our military more than now."

Trump has also sought to cast blame on the Democrats in the event of a shutdown, tweeting Thursday, "A government shutdown will be devastating to our military ... something the Dems care very little about!"

A shutdown, he said, "could happen," but "it's up to the Democrats."

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