Negotiations for 2017 budget ‘very positive,’ White House says

The White House reiterated its confidence that a government shutdown on April 29 is not in the cards.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said April 24 that the work by Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and others has been “very positive” and a shutdown is unlikely.

There was some concern that President Donald Trump’s priorities such as funding for the border wall could lead to a stalemate in Congress and thus shut down the government.

But Spicer seemed to downplay the funding of the border wall as a roadblock.

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“They are currently negotiating. We feel very confident that they understand the President’s priorities and will come to an agreement by the end of Friday,” Spicer said during the daily press briefing.

Spicer said Trump’s priorities remain the same — increased funding for the military and border security are at the top of the list.

“Starting in the first week of March, Director Mulvaney engaged with appropriators on the House side. So this has been an ongoing discussion now for almost eight weeks with the senior team here and the appropriators in the House, in particular,” Spicer said. “Director Mulvaney has been very, very deep in those discussions, and I expect there to be an announcement soon with what, but I’m not going to take things on or off the table with respect to what the President may or may not do.”

Spicer said Trump is paying attention to the negotiations on Capitol Hill.

“As needed he will be involved. He has talked to members. He’s had lots of discussions with members at various times. But we are not in a position now where he is actively engaging the way he was, say, at the end of health care,” Spicer said. “He is actively monitoring and being given updates by the senior team that is working the Hill.”

Despite the confidence, OMB is working with agencies to prepare for a possible government shutdown. Last week, OMB asked agencies to update, as necessary, their contingency operation plans, and plans to hold a shutdown planning call this week.

Congress passed two continuing resolutions since the fiscal 2017 began on Oct. 1. The first one kept the government open through Dec. 9, and the second one will run out at midnight on April 28.

Many experts expect Congress to come up with some sort of part appropriations bill and part CR. The Pentagon has pushed hard for a true spending bill and not another continuing resolution.

The White House requested almost $25 billion more for the Defense Department and $3 billion for the Homeland Security Department. Civilian agencies, meanwhile, are bracing for $18 billion in cuts to offset the military spending increase.

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