WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the nation "needs a good 'shutdown' in September" to fix a "mess" in the Senate, issuing contradictory messages ahead of key votes on a spending plan to keep the federal government running.
Trump's embrace of a government shutdown came days after he accused Senate Democrats of seeking a shutdown and obstructing majority Republicans during recent budget negotiations. Lawmakers announced Sunday they had reached an agreement to avoid a shutdown until September — a deal that does not include several provisions sought by Trump, including funding for a border wall.
Congress is expected to vote this week on the $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September. The White House on Monday praised the deal as a win for the nation's military, health benefits for coal miners and other Trump priorities. The House is also considering a possible vote this week on a health care overhaul that would repeal and replace the so-called Obamacare law.
Kicking off the day, the president tweeted Tuesday from his Twitter account, "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!" He added that we "either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 (percent). Our country needs a good "shutdown" in September to fix mess!"
About an hour later, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin defended the budget plan, telling reporters, "No longer will our military be held hostage for domestic spending." He said the spending package was an "important first step in the right direction" that included a "big down payment" on border security and the military.
The presidential tweets displayed a contradictory message on the budget deal.
Last Thursday, Trump had tweeted that Democrats were threatening to close national parks as part of the negotiations "and shut down the government. Terrible!" He also tweeted at the time that he had promised to "rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!"
His Tuesday tweets about Senate procedures came after Senate Republicans recently triggered the "nuclear option" to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold for Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. That change allowed the Senate to hold a final vote to approve Gorsuch with a simple majority, an approach that has not been used for legislation.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he's not inclined to change Senate rules on the filibuster and legislation, something that has been echoed by other Republicans. McConnell said in April, "Who would be the biggest beneficiary of that right now? It would be the majority, right?" McConnell told reporters. "There's not a single senator in the majority who thinks we ought to change the legislative filibuster. Not one."
Speaking Tuesday, McConnell said the funding bill is the product of bipartisan negotiations, and that it "delivers some important conservative wins, including critical steps forward on defense and border security."
Any future shutdowns would likely cost the federal government billions of dollars. The 16-day partial government shutdown in 2013 cost $24 billion, according to Moody's and Standard and Poor's. That included lost revenue for the national parks.