After weeks of rancorous division, Democrats and Republicans finally seemed on the verge of striking a large-scale budget deal that would satisfy some of the spending demands of both sides while punting on the hot-button immigration issues that had caused the division in the first place.
That is, until the deal-maker-in-chief opened his mouth.
At a roundtable that focused on America’s foremost menace, MS-13, President Trump said, “If we don’t get rid of these loopholes … let’s have a shutdown, we’ll do a shutdown, and it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.”
By “this stuff,” Trump was referring to long-standing American law. As Democrats and Republicans have gone back and forth on a potential deal to protect DACA recipients from deportation, the White House has been pushing its own immigration framework, which involves over $20 billion for a border wall, sharp cuts to family-linked immigration, the end of the visa lottery, and an eventual path to citizenship for Dreamers.
That proposal was a nonstarter for Democratic leadership and many Republicans. With Senate-crafted alternatives meeting stiff White House resistance, the most likely scenario seemed to be a budget deal paired with an extension of DACA eligibility coupled with a modest increase in security spending, leaving the crucial immigration fight for another day.
But Trump, at least for now, seems determined not to agree to anything unless he gets everything.
Republican representative Barbara Comstock, who is in danger of losing her seat this November, immediately took issue with the notion of a shutdown.
And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly clarified that the president wasn’t endorsing the outcome, exactly.
As ever, it’s tough to know whether Trump really meant what he said, or if he’ll tweet something completely contradictory in the next hour.
Earlier on Tuesday, the president was in full demagogue mode; in a pair of tweets, he noted that a drunk driver who killed an ex-NFL player was an illegal immigrant.