White House signals it wants to avoid shutdown

The White House on Tuesday indicated it wants to avoid a partial government shutdown over President TrumpDonald TrumpMcAuliffe takes tougher stance on Democrats in Washington Democrats troll Trump over Virginia governor's race Tom Glavine, Ric Flair, Doug Flutie to join Trump for Herschel Walker event MORE's demand for border wall funding.

In an interview with Fox News, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump has “other ways to get to that $5 billion” for the wall.


“At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border from illegal immigration,” she said.

The comments come just days before the Dec. 21 deadline when funding for seven government agencies is set to lapse.

Trump had been demanding $5 billion in new funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but Democrats have repeatedly rebuffed his request.

During a dramatic meeting last week with House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats step up pressure on Biden on student loan forgiveness Climate activists target Manchin Democrats face growing storm over IRS reporting provision MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act MORE (D-N.Y.), Trump threatened to trigger a partial government shutdown if he does not get the money and vowed to take responsibility for the political consequences.

Sanders is scheduled to hold her first briefing of the month from the White House on Tuesday afternoon, where she could elaborate on Trump's position.

The spokeswoman said the White House is exploring other ways to get funding for the wall, including possibly using money designated for the military.

“There’s certainly a number of different funding sources that we’ve identified that we can use that we can couple with the money that would be given through congressional appropriations that would help us get to that $5 billion that the president needs in order to protect our borders,” Sanders said.

The White House's latest position resembles a deal offered by Schumer during last week's meeting when he urged Trump to accept a Homeland Security funding bill that provides $1.6 billion for barriers and other measures along the border.

“We’ve been in constant contact. Our team was on the phone with Senate teams this morning, both from the comms perspective as well as the policy teams,” Sanders said.

Trump and Congress have been locked in a stalemate for weeks over the president's demand for $5 billion in wall funding, raising fears in Washington of a partial shutdown before Christmas and New Year's.

The tensions reached a fever pitch last week, when Trump told Schumer in the Oval Office he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”

“I will take the mantle,“ the president said. “I will be the one to shut it down, I'm not going to blame you for it.”

Congressional Republicans complained those comments hurt their leverage with Democrats because it forced them to shoulder the blame for a shutdown.

There were no signs of a potential compromise on Monday as a plan from the White House that Senate Republicans said they expected never emerged.

Trump again vented his frustration about illegal immigration in a Tuesday morning tweet.

“Illegal immigration costs the United States more than 200 Billion Dollars a year. How was this allowed to happen?” he wrote.

But the president is also facing economic headwinds, including a stock-market plunge that appears to be fueled in part by investors' fears over a possible shutdown along with his trade war with China and a potential rate hike by the Federal Reserve.


Trump also revealed the economy is weighing on his mind on Tuesday, when he implored the Fed not to raise rates — another break from norms dictating the president should not comment on central bank policy.

“I hope the people over at the Fed will read today’s Wall Street Journal Editorial before they make yet another mistake. Also, don’t let the market become any more illiquid than it already is. Stop with the 50 B’s. Feel the market, don’t just go by meaningless numbers. Good luck!” he tweeted.

Brett Samuels contributed.

Updated at 11:37 a.m.