By Christina Wilkie
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that a government shutdown “could happen” as soon as Saturday.
“It could happen,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting at the White House, in response to a reporter’s question about the Friday deadline for a spending bill to fund the government.
“The Democrats are really looking at something that could be very dangerous for our country,” Trump said. “They are looking at shutting down. They want to have illegal immigrants, in many cases people that we don’t want in our country, they want to have illegal immigrants pouring into our country, bringing with them crime, tremendous amounts of crime.”
Congress has until midnight on Friday to approve a short-term spending package to keep the government open. Despite majorities in both chambers, Republicans will need Democratic votes to pass the bill.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., responded on Twitter to Trump’s comments saying: “President Trump is the only person talking about a government shutdown. Democrats are hopeful the President will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open.”
What congressional Democrats want in exchange for supporting the spending bill are permanent protections for the nearly 800,000 young, undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States who were brought here as children, the so-called Dreamers.
Earlier this year, Trump canceled an Obama-era protection policy for Dreamers, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. The president’s order gave Congress until March 2018 to pass a bill with DACA-like protections. Republicans have signaled a willingness to address the issue in a spending bill later this year, but not in the short-term fix that must pass this week.
Trump, however, appeared intent on painting any DACA fix proposals as a sort of carte blanche for open borders. “The Democrats maybe would want to shut down the country because they want people flowing into our country,” the president said.