For a little less than four hours Thursday, President Donald Trump asserted that funding for CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, should not be included in a Republican continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown before Friday.
His position threw a wrench into congressional Republicans’ plans to use CHIP as leverage to gain Democratic votes without including legal protections for young undocumented people in the funding bill, as Democrats have demanded.
Then, at least according to the White House, Trump changed his mind.
“The President supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement to TPM.
“Congress needs to do its job and provide full funding of our troops and military with a two-year budget caps deal. However, as the deal is negotiated, the President wants to ensure our military and national security are funded. He will not let it be held hostage by Democrats,” Shah said.
The Associated Press first reported the change of course.
Trump had initially tweeted that CHIP should not be part of a “short term” extension, leading some to believe he didn’t understand what was in the continuing resolution: while the rest of the resolution funds the government in the short term, CHIP funding would be restored for six years as part of Republicans’ proposal.
CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 18, 2018
The program ran out of funds months ago, and a short-term patch passed in December is already drying up months earlier than projected in some states.
It seems by midday Thursday, the White House got on board with congressional Republicans’ plan to pressure Democrats by using sick kids as a bargaining lever against undocumented young people.
Neither Shah nor other White House spokespeople answered TPM’s questions about Trump’s sudden change in position.