White House: ‘We’re not advocating for a shutdown’

The White House on Tuesday insisted that it is not advocating for a government shutdown shortly after President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE said he’d “love” to see one if Democrats don’t agree to his demands on immigration reform.

“We are not advocating for the shutdown, that’s the fault of the Democrats not being able to do their jobs,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “The president wants a long-term deal and he wants a deal on immigration and he hopes Democrats will come to the table and get that done.”

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Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate announced earlier Tuesday they were close to a two-year budget deal, although the deal does not include immigration reform.

There is a March 5 deadline for lawmakers to come to an agreement to extend protections for young immigrants brought into the country illegally as children.

"We’ll do a shutdown and it’s worth it for our country,” Trump said Tuesday at a roundtable meeting on immigration. “I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of.”

Rep. Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockDemocrats can kiss swing voters goodbye with progressive ballot The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Dramatic battle looms after Kennedy’s retirement Election Countdown: Kennedy retirement shakes up midterms | Big primary night for progressives | Fallout from Crowley's defeat | Trump flexes his muscles in GOP primaries | The Hill's Latina Leaders spotlights 2018 candidates MORE (R-Va.), who is a Democratic target in 2018 and hails from a district in the Washington, D.C., suburbs where many federal workers live, told Trump at that meeting that another shutdown is not in the country’s best interests.

“We don't need a government shutdown on this,” she said. “I think both sides have learned that a government shutdown is bad.”

The federal government shut down briefly last month after Democrats refused to back a funding deal that did not address those protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“It’s a fight we won last time and we’re very confident we’ll win again but let me repeat: Our goal is to get a two-year budget deal and then to also get a deal on immigration,” Sanders said. “The president has laid out a plan that addresses both Republican and Democratic concerns and we’re hopeful we’ll come to an agreement on both those fronts.”

“The president isn’t looking for this, but if the Democrat Party is going to continue to threaten a shutdown because they won’t include immigration reforms ... then the president welcomes that fight,” Sanders added.