President Donald Trump on Thursday told a Senate committee that he would consider a partial government shutdown as part of a “temporary deal” with Democrats to avert a shutdown.
The president’s comments come as the White House is preparing to make the final push to persuade lawmakers to pass a partial shutdown that will include the government shutdown and potentially other economic benefits.
The White Trump administration is expected to release a plan for a temporary deal to avert the shutdown by the end of September, with the goal of making it permanent by early September.
But Trump and other Republicans are pushing for a partial funding package to avoid a shutdown that would be a disaster for the economy and threaten job growth.
Trump on Wednesday met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R,Utah, who are expected to push for the partial funding bill to include money for the construction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
The deal would keep the government open through September, but it would leave Congress in control of spending for the next two years, which could be an advantage for Republicans, according to two Republicans familiar with the discussions.
The two Republicans said the White Trump was not making clear how he planned to spend the money if a shutdown were to occur, but that they hoped to have a “comprehensive” package for a long-term fix.
The negotiations could be difficult, however, because of deep divisions within the Republican Party over the direction of the party and its governing agenda.
Hatch said that he is prepared to “make some concessions” to help the GOP, but he said he does not want a shutdown, and Trump suggested he may be willing to negotiate a temporary shutdown.
He also said that Republicans “want to get the hell out of here” as soon as possible.
The House is set to take up the funding package next week, but a full Senate vote is still months away.
The Republican-led House has already passed the bill that would shut down the government for at least the first three months of 2018, but has not voted on it in the Senate.
Democrats have been pressing the White GOP to come up with a plan to fund the government while they negotiate a short-term funding bill that is expected by the fall.
The legislation is expected, but Senate Democrats are threatening to withhold the $7.8 trillion bill if the White party does not agree to a short term funding plan.
If Republicans do not agree on a short funding bill, the GOP is likely to resort to the fiscal cliff, which would shut the government down for three months and send the country into a fiscal default.
The fiscal cliff deal is likely the most consequential crisis in the Whitehouse’s six years in office, and it could force Republicans to make hard decisions about the direction they will pursue, including whether to cut the federal budget or try to raise taxes.
“If the White administration is unwilling to make good on its promise to fund this bill through September and is unwilling and unable to provide the funding needed to avoid the fiscal crisis, we will likely find ourselves with the choice between a shutdown or a debt default,” Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said in a statement Thursday.
“That is not an option I would wish upon anyone.”