A key White House aide and former lawmaker that spearheaded fiscal gridlock under President Obama is reportedly at it again.
Mick Mulvaney is asking GOP legislators to support a controversial immigration provision on a bill required to keep the government funded by the end of the month, according to Politico.
The Office of Management and Budget Director is seeking legislative “language to restrict federal funding grants” for localities that refuse to assist immigration officials, the publication reported.
Supporters of so-called “sanctuary cities” say the practice engenders trust between local police and their communities by taking the burden of federal immigration enforcement off of municipal governments.
Democrats have repeatedly stated that they will not consider any so-called “policy riders” on government funding authorization bills. Last week, they reiterated their support for “clean” financing measures.
Liberal lawmakers have accused Republicans of using the government funding debate to seek money for another nativist initiative—Trump’s US-Mexico border wall.
Republicans are keen themselves on avoiding a shutdown so soon into the Trump administration. But White House encouragement of sanctuary cities provisions would only push both parties toward a fiscal impasse.
“It would blow up any chance of a bipartisan deal. Getting wall money is hard enough, and you get a guy pushing new riders out of nowhere,” a Republican legislative staffer told Politico. “I don’t see how catering to the Freedom Caucus votes help on [the] spending bill,” he said.
The Freedom Caucus is a far-right faction of GOP lawmakers in the House. Mulvaney was a founding member.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also told Politico that he will likely need Democrats’ votes in order to surpass the filibuster threshold. Senate supermajority requirements can still be invoked for legislation, despite them having been fully “nuked” for judicial nominations.
“Most things in the Senate do require 60 votes. Democrats are not irrelevant,” McConnell said. “The first big test of that will be the funding bill when we get back.”
After Mulvaney was elected to the House in 2010, he joined the Tea Party Caucus, pushing fellow lawmakers toward withholding support for previously-routine government funding bills. The faction claimed their efforts were designed to rein in the national debt.
In 2013, Mulvaney tried to put a positive spin on his legislative efforts by describing a government shutdown as a “government slowdown.”
“[Y]ou should know that our troops are still being paid and social security checks are going out,” then-Rep. Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said. “In fact, about 75 percent of the government is open for business.”
Mulvaney also pushed hard against raising the debt ceiling, despite once claiming, in 2011, that he didn’t know what would happen if the US government breached the limit. Analysts have said that a sovereign default would be triggered.
In August 2011, uncertainty over the Tea Party Congress’ ability to raise the debt ceiling caused S&P to downgrade US government credit for the first time in history.
“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable,” the ratings agency stated.
Despite this, Mulvaney spun the downgrade as vindication for his camp.
“A downgrade is exactly what we should expect when we have so much debt and have shown so little interest in actually spending less,” he claimed, in response.