WASHINGTON, February 13, 2019 — President Donald Trump has not yet ruled out shutting down the government if he is unhappy with the compromise bill Congress plans to send him, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.
“We want to see what the final piece of legislation looks like,” Sanders said when asked about several media reports which indicated that the president would sign the bill, which has been assembled over the past few weeks by a House-Senate conference committee.
“It’s hard to say definitively whether or not the president is going to sign it until we know everything that’s in it.”
Sanders admitted there were “some positive pieces” in the proposed appropriations bill, which provides just over a billion dollars for improvements to existing fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, but rejected the idea that funding levels in the bill are similar to the deal the president blew up in December after being criticized by right-wing talk radio hosts.
She also stressed that a shutdown is “not what [Trump] wants,” but attempted to preemptively blame Democrats for any shutdown the president might cause by refusing to sign the bipartisan legislation.
“If [a shutdown] happens again, that will be because the Democrats completely failed to do their job and work with the president to secure our border.”
A decision by the president to veto the compromise legislation could lead the Congress to attempt to override that veto.
But the president has indicated that rather than veto the funding, he may take the constitutionally-questionable route of using executive authority to “reprogram” money appropriated for other purposes to build his wall, which was a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign but is overwhelmingly opposed by a majority of Americans.
Still, Sanders dismissed the suggestion that by attempting to reprogram already-appropriated funds — a decision which would almost certainly be challenged in the courts — the president was planning to “go it alone.”
“Most people across the country know that we need border security and the biggest responsibility the president has is to protect the people of this country,” she said. “I think he’s got the support of Americans all over this country and I’d hardly say that’s going alone.”