WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he is “very confident” Congress will avoid government shutdown when the current government spending law expires in late April.
Asked by Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” if he would be prepared to risk a government shutdown over GOP agenda items like President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall or defunding Planned Parenthood, McConnell said, “We’re going to negotiate all of those items in the context of this funding bill.”
When pressed, the Kentucky Republican declined to say he’d be willing to risk a government shutdown over the wall, but also argued that Senate Democrats — not Trump — would likely take the heat for any potential shutdown.
“I would advise President Trump: ‘Don’t worry about them sticking that label on you. Congress owns the government shutdown brand,'” McConnell said. “There’s no incentive, frankly, for either side to go to the brink.”
The Republican Party’s slim majority in the Senate means it will need support from at least a few Democrats in order to pass a funding measure. McConnell said the process was going forward “on a bipartisan basis” so far and would continue to include input from Democrats and Trump’s administration.
“They will be relevant to this process,” McConnell said of Senate Democrats, adding, “I’m confident Senate Democrats are not going to want to shut down the government.”
Sen. John McCain said Wednesday he would not vote for a funding bill that did not increase defense spending, even if such a vote contributed to a government shutdown.
Congress must also pass a debt ceiling increase to avoid the government defaulting on its debts. According to the Treasury Department, the government met its debt limit in mid-March, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the department would be undertaking extraordinary measures to stave off a historic default.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a CNN interview in March that Congress would pass a debt ceiling increase and avoid default.