President Donald Trump’s acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said Sunday that the administration “absolutely cannot” rule out another government shutdown — even though he also claimed that there is plenty of money already available for Trump to build his unpopular wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Bipartisan congressional negotiators are running out of time to reach an agreement on legislation to keep the government funded after the current three-week continuing resolution expires on February 15.
Trump ran for president in 2016 on a promise that he would build a wall along the entire southern border and that it would be funded entirely by Mexico. After Mexico refused, Trump has demanded $5.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding this year to begin construction on the project.
Earlier this year, he forced the longest partial government shutdown in the nation’s history in an unsuccessful attempt to get Congress to appropriate that money. But Mulvaney said on Sunday that Trump can legally build the wall even if he does not get new appropriations
On Fox News Sunday, Mulvaney vowed that Trump is going to build the wall, period. “We’ll take as much money as you can give us. And then we’ll go off and find the money someplace else — legally — in order to secure that southern barrier. But this is going to get built, with or without Congress.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press, he made a similar claim, suggesting that the president will move around funds and augment that by declaring a national emergency.
“What we’re looking at doing with President Trump is stuff that is entirely legal. Stuff that is laid out in law already…” he explained. “There’s pots of money where presidents, all presidents have access to without a national emergency and pots that he will not have access to without that declaration.”
Still, Mulvaney made clear that even if Trump needs no new appropriations to construct his wall, he still might force yet another government shutdown.
Asked by host Chuck Todd if he would rule out another government shutdown this week, Mulvaney responded, “You absolutely cannot,” he said. Even if the Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic-controlled House agreed on a bill, he suggested, if it included “zero dollars for the wall or $800 million — an absurdly low number — how does he sign that? He cannot in good faith sign that.”
In other words, Trump does not need Congress to fund his wall, but he still might stop paying 800,000 government workers again if they don’t.