At one moment on Tuesday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer was sitting on the sidelines as Budget Director Mick Mulvaney was fielding questions from the media. The next, he was following Mulvaney out of the room to the collective cries of “Sean!” from the Washington press corps.
There was no reason given for the lack of the usual press briefing. Although appearances by administration officials have taken place before, Spicer usually has comments of his own or fields questions from the media in addition to any comments from those officials. However on Tuesday, the briefing was conducted by Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Mulvaney before its unexpected and sudden ending.
Kelly scolded Democrats for celebrating the fact that the budget deal has no funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.
“They are rejoicing that that wall will be slower to be built,” he said, adding he was “shocked” at their stance.
However, he said the $1.5 billion increase for border security “keeps us moving in the right direction to a more secure United States.”
During his portion of the briefing, Mulvaney addressed the deal made to ensure the federal government keeps operating after the current continuing resolution expires Friday. He also responded to questions about a tweet from Trump that said, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”
“I think the president is frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out to try and spike the football and make him look bad,” Mulvaney said. Democratic leaders have crowed that they achieved more in the short-term budget deal for the final five months of the current fiscal year than did Trump.
“I get that frustration because I think it is a terrible posture for the Democrats to take. If we are sitting here trying to prove to people that Washington is going to be different, that we’re going to change things and can figure a way to work with them and they do that to this president, listen, I would have taken offense at that so it doesn’t surprise me at all that his frustrations were manifested in that way,” he said.
Mulvaney then spoke about the chances of a future shutdown.
“We’ve got a lot to do between now and September. I don’t anticipate a shutdown in September. But if negotiations — if the Democrats aren’t going to behave any better than they have in the last couple days, it may be inevitable.”
“How would a shutdown clean up the mess?” he was asked.
“Sooner or later, we’ll have to start doing something different,” Mulvaney said. “If we get to September and it is still business as usual, business as usual, business as usual and nothing changes, and takes a shutdown to change it, I have no problem with that.”
He was later asked to define a “good shutdown.”
“ … to the extent the president advocated one today, if you wanted to imagine what a good shutdown was, it would be one that fixes this town,” Mulvaney said. “One that drives the message back home to people that it really was as broken as they thought that it was when they voted for Donald Trump, and they trusted him — if that’s what is necessary to do to fix Washington, D.C., that would be a good shutdown.”