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Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney speaks to the media at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in November, where he began work earlier in the day after being named acting director by President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Shutdown deadline looms as wall negotiations hit a snag

WASHINGTON — As negotiations over a border security hit a snag, the White House on Sunday would not rule out another federal government shutdown even as it signaled a willingness to obtain funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed wall by other means.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in appearances on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and “Fox News Sunday,” said “you absolutely cannot” eliminate the possibility of another shutdown on Friday if a deal is not reached over the wall. The White House had asked for $5.7 billion, a figure rejected by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, and the mood among bargainers has soured, according to people familiar with the negotiations not authorized to speak publicly about private talks.

You cannot take a shutdown off the table, and you cannot take $5.7 off the table,” Mulvaney told NBC, “but if you end up someplace in the middle, yeah, then what you probably see is the president say, ‘Yeah, OK, and I’ll go find the money someplace else.’”

A congressional deal seemed to stall even after Mulvaney convened a bipartisan group of lawmakers at Camp David on Friday. While the two sides seemed close to clinching a deal late last week, significant gaps remained and momentum appears to have slowed.

The White House and many Republicans want to push the amount that would be spent for building physical barriers to $2 billion or higher. Democrats have said they will keep that figure below $2 billion, with some saying they support perhaps half that. In addition, Democrats are pushing to reduce the number of apprehended migrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a federal agency. Republicans are resisting.

“I think talks are stalled right now,” Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said Sunday on Fox. “I’m not confident we’re going to get there.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who appeared on the same program, agreed that “We are not to the point where we can announce a deal.”

But Mulvaney did signal that the White House would prefer not to have a repeat of the last shutdown, which stretched more than a month, left more than 800,000 government workers without paychecks, forced a postponement of the State of the Union address and sent Trump’s poll numbers tumbling.

As support in his own party began to splinter, Trump surrendered after the shutdown hit 35 days without getting money for the wall.

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