President Donald Trump said Thursday the Children’s Health Insurance Program should be part of a “long term solution,” creating confusion around the efforts to prevent a government shutdown.
“CHIP should be part of a long term solution, not a 30 Day, or short term, extension!” Trump tweeted.
Funding for the program lapsed as of Sept. 30, 2017. House Republicans’ plan to keep the government funded until Feb. 16 includes a six-year extension of the popular program.
The White House later clarified that the president supports the stop-gap measure under consideration in the House, but he wants a longer-term spending deal and would prefer the children’s health program be funded separately from a continuing resolution to keep the government running.
“We do support CHIP funding,” deputy press secretary Raj Shah told reporters during Trump’s trip to Pennsylvania on Thursday afternoon. “The president has been clear he supports CHIP funding. But as a matter of how Congress legislates, if there need to be other items attached to CRs on a routine basis, that’s not good governing and that’s our point of view. We’re very clear that we do support this CR. But as a matter — we would prefer clean continuing resolutions.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) appeared to try to explain the bill to Trump on Twitter, noting that “the current house Continuing Resolution package has a six-year extension of CHIP, not a 30 day extension.”
While Trump has in the past called for a “good shutdown,” he also tweeted on Thursday that letting government funding lapse would be “devastating to our military … something the Dems care very little about!”
Speaking at the Pentagon Thursday, Trump told reporters a shutdown “could happen.”
The children’s insurance measure was included in the funding extension bill as a way to pick up votes. Republicans have argued that if Democrats oppose the spending bill, which they are threatening to do because it does not address a separate immigration issue, they would be blamed for not protecting children’s health.
“We need to shut down the government and not fund children’s health insurance? That’s a pretty bad argument,” House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden said Wednesday. “They know in their hearts that a ‘yes’ vote is the right vote.”
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