White House budget chief floats trade on ObamaCare, border wall funding
© Greg Nash
President Trump's budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, said Friday that the White House is offering Democrats money for key ObamaCare payments in exchange for money to help fund the president's proposed border wall.
 
"We'd offer them $1 of CSR payments for $1 of wall payments. Right now that's the offer that we've given to our Democratic colleagues," Mulvaney said during a Bloomberg Live interview, referring to the insurance company reimbursements known as cost-sharing reduction (CSR).
 
Mulvaney added that the administration had "finally boiled this negotiation down to" the border wall and the cost-reduction payments, which offset costs for insurers who cover ObamaCare's low-income enrollees.
 
Lawmakers have through April 28 to enact legislation to avoid a government shutdown, but they appear to be increasingly at an impasse.
 
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE's (D-N.Y.) office immediately shot down a deal to exchange the ObamaCare payments for funding for Trump's border wall, calling it as a "nonstarter."
 
"The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the President said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete nonstarter," said Matt House, a spokesman for Schumer. 
 
He added that "if the administration would drop their eleventh-hour demand for a wall that Democrats – and a good number of Republicans – oppose, congressional leaders could quickly reach a deal."
 
Pressed if the White House would accept border security funding instead of money specifically for a wall, Mulvaney said Friday he wouldn't negotiate through the media but added: "Elections have consequences."
 
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"This president should be allowed to have his highest priorities funded even though the Democrats rightly have a seat at the table because of the Senate rules," he told Bloomberg Live. "But you cannot expect a president who just won [an] election to give up very easily on his highest priority."
 
The increasingly public battle over funding the government comes as the Trump administration is nearing its 100th day in office with few legislative victories. 
 
Trump submitted a supplemental budget to Congress earlier this year that requested roughly $1.5 billion to help build the border wall. 
 
Democrats have warned for weeks that they wouldn't support a government funding bill that included money for the border wall, which they consider a "poison pill." 
 
Schumer's spokesman had accused the White House of gumming up the government funding talks. 
 
“Everything had been moving smoothly until the administration moved in with a heavy hand. Not only are Democrats opposed to the wall, there is significant Republican opposition as well," House said on Thursday. 
 
GOP leadership had also previously signaled they were willing to leave out border wall funding in order to win over enough Democratic support to pass the funding bill. Republicans need at least eight Democrats in the Senate, and could need Democratic votes in the House if conservatives don't support the funding bill.
 
But Mulvaney has repeatedly said that the Trump administration views the border wall as a top priority, as well as more defense money and immigration enforcement. 
 
"We want wall funding. We want [immigration] agents. Those are our priorities," he told The Associated Press on Thursday.
 
Democrats, meanwhile, are demanding that ObamaCare payments to insurers be included in the bill after Trump floated canceling them in order to force a negotiation on healthcare reform. 
 
Schumer told reporters earlier this week that Democrats were "very hopeful" that they could get a deal but warned the White House to stay on the sidelines of the talks. 
 
"I think there's agreement, quiet agreement in the four corners, that if the president doesn't interfere and insist on poison-pill amendments to be shoved down the throat of the Congress, we can come up with an agreement," he said.