Just two days after President Trump raised fresh concerns about the possibility of a government shutdown when stopgap federal funding expires on November 21, the White House said Tuesday that it is open to another short-term spending extension that would push the deadline into December.
Eric Ueland, the White House director of legislative affairs, told reporters Tuesday that Trump wants “the spending process to continue to unfold and the government to continue to be funded,” according to the Associated Press. Ueland reportedly indicated that, as long as Democrats don’t look to restrict Trump’s efforts to fund barrier construction along the border with Mexico, Trump is open to signing a short-term funding bill.
“It seems as if the center of gravity around here is coalescing around a date in December,” Ueland said, according to Bloomberg News.
Trump on Sunday had left open the possibility that he might not sign off on another stopgap funding bill. But with 16 days to go before the federal government runs out of money, key lawmakers reportedly greeted those comments with a healthy dose of skepticism, essentially dismissing them as Trump posturing.
Even before Ueland’s comments, appropriators and congressional aides remained optimistic that they’ll be able to keep the government funded, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal and The Hill.
Congress has yet to pass any of the annual spending bills required for the fiscal year that started on October 1 and appropriators have made little progress in overcoming disagreements — particularly over funding for Trump’s border barriers — that have bogged down their negotiations. Key lawmakers have said that another short-term extension will be needed to keep the government running after the current eight-week stopgap funding runs out.
The length of that extension remains unclear, though. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have reportedly agreed to try to pass all 12 of the required full-year funding bills by the end of the year, but top appropriators have indicated that a short-term extension might run through February or March.