Trump: 'Too early to say' if shutdown will be averted

President TrumpDonald John Trump Former US ambassador: 'Denmark is not a big fan of Donald Trump and his politics' Senate Democrats push for arms control language in defense policy bill Detroit county sheriff endorses Booker for president MORE on Tuesday said it is “too early” to determine whether a partial government shutdown will be averted, even as his White House signaled it wants to avoid a funding lapse.  

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House when asked about the prospect of a shutdown. “It's too early to say.”

The president also stressed he is determined to get $5 billion for his long-desired wall along the southern border.

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“We need border security,” he said.

Despite Trump’s noncommittal comments, the chances of a shutdown appeared to diminish after a day of negotiating on Capitol Hill.

Lawmakers face a Friday deadline to approve funding for seven government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security. Negotiations have been held up over Trump’s demand for wall funding, which Democrats have rejected.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP group calls on Republican senators to stand up to McConnell on election security in new ads The Hill's Morning Report - Trump hews to NRA on guns and eyes lower taxes Hobbled NRA shows strength with Trump MORE (R-Ky.) predicted on Tuesday there would not be a shutdown, saying the Trump administration is “extremely flexible” in striking a spending deal.

Republicans and Democrats appeared to be working toward an agreement that would spend $1.6 billion on border fencing and other barriers, similar to what the Senate Appropriations Committee approved earlier this year, and $1 billion for other immigration efforts.

Democrats signaled, however, they might not accept such a deal if the additional $1 billion can be spent on the wall.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump would seek wall funding from other sources, telling Fox News he has “other ways to get to that $5 billion.”

“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.

Sanders later told reporters during her first briefing in weeks that Trump has asked all Cabinet agencies to come up with funds to go toward the wall, a maneuver that Democrats said was legally questionable.

The spokeswoman said the money would come from unspent funds at government agencies, but it’s unclear whether the White House has the authority to use those funds for other purposes, such as building a wall.

Regardless, Tuesday’s events represented the first significant moves toward resolving the spending fight after a weeks-long stalemate.

The situation appeared particularly dire last week, after Trump told Democratic leaders during a dramatic Oval Office meeting that he would be “proud” to shut down the government in order to get wall money.

Those comments frustrated Republicans on Capitol Hill, who expressed concern that the president had essentially cornered them into shouldering blame for a potential shutdown.

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

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded on Tuesday after falling roughly 500 points on Monday to put it on pace for its worst December since 1931.

— Updated at 3:47 p.m.