Trump Sows Chaos With New Demands As Government Shutdown Looms

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President Trump torched Republican leaders’ plans to avoid a government shutdown on Thursday morning with a new demand that funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program not be included in any government funding bill, increasing the chances of a government shutdown in less than 48 hours.

GOP leaders had planned to include a six-year extension of funding for the CHIP program as a way to pressure moderate Democrats to vote for a one-month extension of government funding as they scramble for enough votes to avoid a shutdown.

But Trump took to Twitter to question that plan.

The comments left top GOP negotiators scratching their heads — and boosting the risk of a government shutdown after Friday.

“I’m not sure what the President means,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) said on Fox News Thursday morning when asked about the President’s new stance — before making the case that CHIP funds should remain in the bill in spite of Trump’s new position.

“What this would do though is it would reauthorize the CHIP program for, I believe, five years. So it’s not just a 30-day extension. But Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy have to figure a way to cobble together the 218 votes. Apparently, they feel like adding this will help them get to that 218 votes,” he said.

Trump’s latest move left other Republicans seething.

House leaders had planned on a vote on that bill as early as Thursday afternoon to try to ram one month of government funding through. They were banking that they could get enough hardline Republican Freedom Caucus members onboard, while pressuring enough Democrats with the CHIP funds to ram the bill through the House and force the Senate to back the plan as the only option in town.

This is far from Trump’s only major shift during these negotiations — he’d reportedly privately given positive signals a bipartisan group of senators on their plan to give more permanent legal status to recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in exchange for some border security funding and immigration law changes, before sandbagging those efforts in a hostile meeting where he allegedly made his now-infamous “shithole” comments.

And he issued a new demand for funding for “the wall” in his Thursday morning tweetstorm as well:

But even without Trump’s latest goalpost-moving, the GOP leaders’ plan didn’t look foolproof.

Senators in both parties have increasingly warned they might vote against another short-term extension, with Democrats furious that GOP leaders won’t include the bipartisan DACA compromise and some Republicans warning that they wouldn’t back a short-term plan because it puts the squeeze on military funding.

Shortly before Trump’s latest shift, a pair of key moderates — Sen. Angus King (I-ME), who caucuses with Democrats, and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) — announced they would vote against the short-term continuing resolution.

“I’m opposing the CR in its current form as well. And it’s not because immigration isn’t included,” Rounds said on CNN Thursday morning. “For me, it’s a matter of defense.”

Congress has until midnight Friday to figure out a way to avoid a government shutdown — a possibility that’s looking more likely by the hour as of Thursday morning. And Trump’s continued shifts aren’t making it any easier for GOP leaders as they try to avoid the first shutdown when one party has unified control of government in recent memory.

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