WASHINGTON — Congress is risking another federal government shutdown as House Republicans on Tuesday approved a temporary bill loaded with extra military spending that will almost certainly face a filibuster from Democrats — and some Republicans — in the Senate.
Neither party appears to want a repeat of last month’s three-day shutdown, but President Donald Trump seemed game for closing the government again if he could blame it on Democrats. Funds for federal operations expire Thursday.
“I’d love to see a shutdown if we can’t get this stuff taken care of,” Trump said during a White House event on gang violence that quickly turned to immigration and border security issues. “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety … let’s shut it down.”
Trump’s brash comments drew instant rebuke from lawmakers, including one of the Repub-licans attending the roundtable event.
“We don’t need a government shutdown on this,” said Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Va., whose district in the Washington suburbs is home to many federal workers. Both parties want to resolve the issues, she added.
Trump interrupted her: “You can say what you want.”
“I would shut it down over this issue,” he said later in response to a question from a reporter.
The president’s comments were out of sync with the action on Capitol Hill. Unlike last month, when Democrats briefly blocked a federal spending bill to try to push Republicans on immigration, neither party has linked the two issues this time as lawmakers have been negotiating over possible immigration compromises.
Now lawmakers in both houses are hoping a broader, multiyear budget deal can be struck in time to prevent another stopgap measure after this one, which would expire March 23, in what would be the fifth short-term funding bill of this fiscal year.
The sticking point has been that Republicans want higher military spending and Democrats oppose that unless there is additional money for domestic accounts.
Republicans tried to win Democratic votes on the stopgap measure Tuesday by attaching a two-year extension of funding for community health clinics and other provisions, along with the full year of military funding. But Democrats mostly voted against it.
Even as House GOP leaders were able to muscle their bill to passage, 245 to 182, thanks to backing from the conservative House Freedom Caucus, the outcome in the Senate is uncertain. The narrow 51-seat Senate Republican majority must rely on Democratic support to reach the 60-vote threshold for passage.
“Unfortunately, we are back at that point that we were just a few weeks ago,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. “Last time, we had to have a shutdown. Hopefully we will not be in that situation again.”