White House Preps for ‘Schumer Shutdown’ as Trump, Schumer Talk
OMB Chief Mick Mulvaney, WH Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short tell media Dems are to blame for potential suspension
Closure of many federal government offices and services seemed imminent Friday, and the White House prepared by sending out two top officials to warn of the “Schumer Shutdown.”
Postal services would continue, officials said, but government-employee paychecks would not be created.
Military members would also be unpaid while working. And U.S. border patrol agents would have to work while going unpaid during the shutdown. Retirees, however, would still get their pension checks.
The White House scurried to blame the Democrats, who are using filibuster rules in the Senate to block a temporary funding measure. And President Donald Trump summoned Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to the Oval Office in a last-ditch effort to find a compromise acceptable to both parties.
"OMB is preparing for what we call the 'Schumer shutdown,'" said Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, speaking to the press Friday morning and referring to Sen. Schumer. Mulvaney is also acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Mulvaney was joined in the briefing by Marc Short, White House director of legislative affairs and deputy assistant to President Trump.
But while Republicans are aggressively pinning blame on Schumer, mainstream media figures appear determined to blame the president and congressional Republicans. Trump administration officials, however, are having none of it. Mulvaney blasted CNN reporter Jim Acosta for suggesting the GOP has control of Congress and still cannot avoid a shutdown.
"Come on, you know the answer to that as well as anybody," said Mulvaney. "I have to laugh when people say that ... It takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass appropriations bills .... When you only have 51 [Republican] votes in the Senate, then you have to have Democratic support in order ... to fund the government."
Reporters pointed out, however, that Trump had said on Twitter that the nation "needs a good shutdown" in May, and once said ending a shutdown was a presidential responsibility. Reporters also suggested Trump caused the impasse with Democrats with his "s***hole" remarks.
But Mulvaney and Short avoided reporters' attempts to shift blame to Trump, noting Democrats are playing politics with a shutdown — just as former President Barack Obama did in 2013 when congressional Republicans led by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah forced a temporary shutdown over spending issues.
Mulvaney said the Obama administration "weaponized" shutdowns in 2013, and made it worse than it had to be to inflict political pain on the Republican-led House. Mulvaney said because of some "carryover" funds, a shutdown will look much different in 2018 and will have a lesser impact in the first weeks.
Short said congressional Democrats seem "hell-bent" on a shutdown.
"I don't think it's clear what Democrats are asking for," said Short. "There is not bill text they are asking Republicans to bring up."
On the Senate floor, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blasted Democrats for risking a shutdown of federally funded opioid-treatment centers and doing greater damage to the growing economy.
McConnell said despite their bluster, Democrats seem worried they will take most of the blame.
"The craziness of this seems to be dawning on the Democratic leader," said McConnell.