WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a recent appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” former President Donald Trump said he would back a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t agree on measures to address the nation’s whopping $35 trillion debt. “We have to save our country,” he stated emphatically during his discussion with Kristen Welker.
WATCH: Kristen Welker asks former President Trump if he supports Republican hardliners in Congress who are threatening to shut down the government.— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) September 17, 2023
Trump: “I’d shut down the government if they can’t make an appropriate deal, absolutely.” pic.twitter.com/OiLTr5skIb
Trump’s comments came in response to Welker’s question about whether “Republican hardliners should abandon their threat” of a government shutdown amidst a looming impeachment inquiry. The former President firmly rejected the notion.
Earlier this year, a record debt led Congress to break their deadlock and vote to raise the debt ceiling. This action prevented what would have been an unprecedented default, by passing legislation endorsed by President Joe Biden. However, lawmakers now face the daunting task of approving 11 significant spending bills by Sept. 30 to prevent a government shutdown.
Adding fuel to the fire, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has chosen this turbulent moment to address a potential impeachment inquiry. While some Republicans have sought impeachment since 2021, McCarthy’s recent acknowledgment is seen by many as a strategic move ahead of complex spending bill discussions.
McCarthy commented on Sept. 1, “The American people deserve to be heard. If we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it will be through a vote on the floor and not by one person’s declaration.”
Still, divisions within the Republican party remain. The House Freedom Caucus, in particular, is pressuring for spending cuts and threatens McCarthy’s leadership position should he yield to Democrat expenditure requests.
Among contentious topics in the spending bills is a provision by House Republicans that is absent in the Senate version. This provision aims to prevent any funds from promoting actions that discriminate against individuals based on their belief that marriage is exclusively a union between a man and a woman. Moreover, there’s an anticipated deadlock regarding funds designated for Ukraine and border security.
President Joe Biden has publicly criticized the idea of spending cuts and a potential government shutdown. In a speech on Sept. 14, Biden rebuked Trump’s economic strategies, referring to them as “MAGAnomics.” He touted his Medicare reforms, which have reportedly reduced the deficit and his proposed measures to further decrease the deficit via taxes on major corporations.
It’s worth noting Trump’s past with government shutdowns. In December 2018, he had a standoff with lawmakers who were reluctant to allocate $5 billion for his border wall, resulting in a record-breaking shutdown that lasted 34 days. During Trump’s tenure, the government also experienced two other short-lived shutdowns in January and February 2018, both related to immigration and budget debates.
Given the current challenges, it remains to be seen if lawmakers can navigate the financial crisis, impeachment inquiries, and their party differences to prevent yet another shutdown.