Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday set up the possibility of a government shutdown, and his comments echoed a lot of rhetoric coming from the Trump White House.
During a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Mnuchin was asked by Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine about a May 2 tweet from President Donald Trump that suggested the federal government needs a “good shutdown.”
“It’s an unfortunate outcome. At times there could be a good shutdown, at times there may not be a good shutdown.” Mnuchin said. “There could be reasons at various times why that is the right outcome.”
A shutdown was avoided at the end of April after a bipartisan deal to fund the government through September 30 was reached. The bill did not include funding for Trump projects like the wall along the US-Mexico border and Trump officials pushed back on suggestions that the president lost out on the deal.
“The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!” Trump tweeted following the deal. “We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%. Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”
Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney also defended the idea of a “good shutdown” in May.
“What we just did this week was fine and passable but not ideal,” Mulvaney told CBS’ Fact the Nation on May 7. “The appropriations, the spending process, Congress using the power of the purse has been broken here in Washington for more than 10 years. And I think a good shutdown would be one that could help fix that. It’s part of that overall drain-the-swamp mentality about Washington, DC.”
If the government shuts down on October 1, it would be the first time since Jimmy Carter that a single party controlled both Congress and the White House and the government shut down. However, federal employees were not furloughed under Carter, so if some are sent home it would be the first shutdown of that magnitude under single party control.
A spending bill is one of many important, must-pass legislative actions needed by the end of September. Congress must also pass legislation to raise the debt ceiling and fund the Federal Aviation Administration, the national flood insurance program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.