White House backtracks on Trump's statement that he would 'love' a shutdown

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is not advocating for a government shutdown, a White House spokeswoman said on Tuesday, after he said earlier he would welcome a federal government shutdown if Congress is unable to agree to changes in immigration law.

"We are not advocating for the shutdown, that's the fault of the Democrats not doing their job. The president wants a long-term deal and he wants a deal on immigration and we hope that Democrats will come to the table and get those things done," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a regular press briefing.

Trump said earlier on Tuesday he would "love" to see another government shutdown as Republicans and Democrats in Congress worked to reach a budget deal that would prevent federal agencies from having to close their doors this week.

SEE ALSO: Government shutdown deadline looms as lawmakers try for DACA deal

The Republican president said he would welcome a shutdown if a spending deal did not include changes to immigration laws, challenging Democrats on the issue that led to a three-day partial closure of government agencies last month.

He spoke even as Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate said they were closing in on an agreement that could dramatically raise spending levels for both military and domestic programs and ensure that the government will keep operating when temporary spending expires on Thursday.

24 PHOTOS
Scenes from the night of the January 2018 government shutdown
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Scenes from the night of the January 2018 government shutdown
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with Democratic leaders on opposition to government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) arrives at Democratic Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (2nd R) with Democratic leaders leaves after a news conference on opposition to government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) talk to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with Democratic leaders on opposition to government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) speaks on a phone outside the room during Democratic Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney talks with reporters at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Reporters wait to interview White House budget director Mick Mulvaney at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) talks to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (L) as they leave the Democratic Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) arrives at Democratic Party caucus meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
WASHINGTON, DC - January 19: Pizza boxes are seen outside the offices of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as legislators work into the night to avert a government shutdown at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: (L-R) Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walk out of a Democratic Caucus meeting at the US Capitol on January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate.(Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) walks to Democratic Caucus meeting at the US Capitol on January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) walks to a Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks to a Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) talks on the phone at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), at left, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), center, and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), at right, walk to a Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 19: (L-R) Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) walk out of a Democratic Caucus meeting at the US Capitol on January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. A continuing resolution to fund the government has passed the House of Representatives but faces a stiff challenge in the Senate. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 19, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
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The deal could potentially put an end to the brinkmanship over spending that has periodically roiled Washington and that resulted in funds running out for the government in January.

"I'm optimistic that very soon we'll be able to reach an agreement," Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said the agreement would include an increase for domestic programs like drug treatment and broadband infrastructure that Democrats have sought, as well as a military spending increase championed by Republicans.

"We're making real progress on a spending deal," he told reporters.

However, Trump said he would welcome a shutdown if Congress does not strengthen border protections and "take care of our military."

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," he said at a White House discussion on immigration.

January's shutdown came about after Democrats insisted that any spending bill must also include protections for young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, who are known as "Dreamers."

21 PHOTOS
Dreamers await their fate
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Dreamers await their fate
DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (L), 26, chats to a friend after eating lunch in a diner in Garden Grove, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez, 26, poses for a portrait in Garden Grove, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. "That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed. I'm concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state. I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants," Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, sits in a coffee shop in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela's mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, poses for a portrait outside her office in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela's mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said, "It broke me. It's traumatising because I've lived in this country for 21 years. We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, poses for a portrait outside her apartment in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. "DACA has always been very problematic and temporary. It's not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we're going to get fired because we have no social. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico. The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family. I think it's important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial, does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have," Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, looks at his cat in his home in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. "My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it's possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status," he said.
DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, walks to the station to go to work in Los Angeles, California U.S. January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, scales a rock-climbing wall in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: "When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me... The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life... the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient and electrical engineering student Brian Caballero, 25, works on a circuit board for his lab class in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: "When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me... The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life... the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, works at his job in visual effects in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. "My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it's possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status... It's not only about us. I've heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don't want that," he said. 
DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, leaves for work from his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. "My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it's possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status... It's not only about us. I've heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don't want that," he said. 
DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, prepares morning coffee in the ambulance in which he lives on his college campus in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: "When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me... The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life... the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Brian Caballero, 25, walks out of the ambulance in which he lives on his college campus in Pomona, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Caballero is an electrical engineering undergraduate student in his last year of Cal Poly Pomona University. He came to the U.S. when he was five or six years old from Guadalajara, Mexico. Caballero said he was worried about losing DACA: "When I finally graduate, not being able to be employed, terrifies me... The vast majority of people who are unauthorised in this country are here to have a better life... the majority of people are like me: here, trying to seek an education and just trying to improve their lives." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela (C), 23, sits in a coffee shop with friends Courtney Folsom (L), 24, and Mariah Osborn, 22, in Fullerton, California, U.S., January 25, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela's mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said: "It broke me... It's traumatising... because I've lived in this country for 21 years... We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families... The reason this country labeled us as 'Dreamers' is because we want something ? as if that dream is unattainable. No, If we can dream it, we can achieve it... It takes guts to have a dream and it takes guts to fight for it." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, poses for a portrait outside his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. "My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it's possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status... It's not only about us. I've heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don't want that," he said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Javier Hernandez Kistte, 27, puts dishes in the sink at his home in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 24, 2018. Hernandez Kistte is a UC Irvine graduate who now works for a visual effects company. He came to the U.S. from Mexico City when he was eight years old. Hernandez Kistte said that DACA allowed him and his brother to finish their degrees by allowing them to work to pay for tuition. "My parents are still undocumented and as a family we struggle with the anxiety that it's possible for them to get deported at any moment. That anxiety has now risen with the uncertainty that me and my brother might return to having an undocumented status... It's not only about us. I've heard of people who are willing to negotiate terms that will give us the right to be here, give us DACA, but will make life a living nightmare for other people and I don't want that," he said. 
DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, watches a TV show at her apartment in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. "DACA has always been very problematic and temporary ? it's not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we're going to get fired because we have no social [security number]. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico... The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family... I think it's important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial... does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have," Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (C), 26, participates in a protest for a clean Dream Act, in Anaheim, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. "That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA... I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed... I'm concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state... I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants," Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Martha Valenzuela, 23, leaves her office at lunchtime in Orange, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Valenzuela is a Cal State Fullerton graduate who came to the U.S. from Sinaloa, Mexico, when she was two years old. Valenzuela's mother crossed the Arizona desert to join her and her father in the U.S. When she heard about Trump rescinding DACA, Valenzuela said: "It broke me... It's traumatising... because I've lived in this country for 21 years... We all want a pathway to citizenship. We all want permanent protection for us and our families... The reason this country labeled us as 'Dreamers' is because we want something ? as if that dream is unattainable. No, If we can dream it, we can achieve it... It takes guts to have a dream and it takes guts to fight for it." REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
DACA recipient Karla Estrada, 26, walks to the station to go to work in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 23, 2018. Estrada is a UCLA graduate who works as a paralegal assistant while preparing to attend law school. She came to the U.S. from Morelos, Mexico, when she was five years old. "DACA has always been very problematic and temporary ? it's not an ideal thing. It has given us the liberty to work, legally, without fear that in three months we're going to get fired because we have no social [security number]. I have to take care of myself in this country but I also have to take care of my mom and dad and brother in Mexico... The thing that scares me the most is not being able to take care of my family... I think it's important for all DACA recipients to understand that DACA or any type of legislation, although very beneficial... does not define who you are as a human being and does not give you any more or any less dignity than you already have," Estrada said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
DACA recipient Barbara Hernandez (C), 26, helps plan a protest for a clean Dream Act at her home in Santa Ana, California, U.S., January 22, 2018. Hernandez graduated from Orange Coast Community College. She came to the U.S. from Mexico City when she was six years old. She worked as a special education teacher until she chose to quit after the repeal of DACA. "That was the most rewarding and loving job I have ever had. But with this administration and the repeal of DACA... I was very scared. I was thrown into this panic stage; I was depressed... I'm concerned about how DACA recipients are feeling, their mental state... I would like to see permanent protection for not only us, DACA recipients, but for all eleven million immigrants," Hernandez said. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson 
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Democrats are not taking that approach this time around, and some of Trump's fellow Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress, are eager to keep spending and immigration separate.

"We don't need a government shutdown on this," Republican Representative Barbara Comstock told Trump at the White House.

The potential budget deal in the Senate could head off another round of last-minute posturing that preceded last month's shutdown.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives was set to vote on Tuesday evening on a stop-gap spending bill that would fund much of the government through March 23 and fund the military through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year.

That measure is not likely to survive unscathed in the Senate, where Republicans cannot pass spending bills without some Democratic support. McConnell and Schumer could incorporate their agreement on domestic and military spending into the stop-gap measure, which then would have to win passage in the House.

Congress also faces another looming deadline, as the United States could have trouble paying its bills within weeks if lawmakers do not take the politically painful step of raising the debt ceiling.

The third-ranking House Republican, Representative Steve Scalise, said negotiations over the debt ceiling were being coupled with the Senate budget talks.

IMMIGRATION ISSUE

Lawmakers have been struggling to reach a deal on an immigration bill, despite broad public support for helping Dreamers - hundreds of thousands of young Latinos who were allowed to study and work without fear of deportation under a program set up by Democratic former President Barack Obama.

Trump last year ordered those protection removed by March 5, saying Congress should come up with a legislative solution.

A federal court blocked the Trump administration last month from ending the program, and the administration's appeal is pending before the Supreme Court.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress are trying to agree on bipartisan legislation that would protect Dreamers and boost border security.

Trump has said any immigration deal must also include funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with changes to programs for legal immigration that would assess applicants on their skills, rather than their country of origin or ties to U.S. residents. Democrats oppose that idea.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Tuesday that any bill that comes up for a vote in the House must have Trump's backing.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice, David Morgan, Jeff Mason and Amanda Becker; Writing by Andy Sullivan and Eric Walsh; Editing by Frances Kerry and Eric Beech)

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