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In reversal, White House shifts border wall funding demands, wants to avoid shutdown

Posted at 11:44 AM, Dec 18, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested Tuesday that the White House has found an alternative way to get its requested $5 billion in funding for a US-Mexico border wall, marking a reversal from President Donald Trump's previous position.

Sanders indicated that the White House could support a compromise bill to avoid a partial government shutdown later this week.

"We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion (for a border wall)," Sanders said Tuesday morning during an interview with Fox News.

"We will work with Congress if they will make sure we get a bill passed that provides not just the funding for the wall, but there's a piece of legislation that's been pushed around that Democrats actually voted 26-5 out of committee that provides roughly $26 billion for border security including $1.6 billion for the wall," she said. "That's something that we would be able to support as a long as we can couple that with other funding resources."

Sanders added: "At the end of the day, we don't want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border."

Last week, Trump told Democratic leaders in a televised meeting he was willing to shut down the government over the border issue.

"I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I'm going to shut it down for border security," Trump had said.

Sanders appeared to suggest that the White House could support a bipartisan Senate bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security, which the White House rejected earlier this year.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer initially offered this as an option to avoid a shutdown, but said last week it wasn't on the table anymore because it couldn't pass the House. That was in part because House Democrats are opposed to the $1.6 billion is wall funding. It remains to be seen if White House support for the legislation changes the Democrats' calculation.

CNN has asked the White House for clarification.

Sanders said the White House has "been in continuous conversations" with Republicans and Democrats on shutdown negotiations, with talks happening as recently as Tuesday morning. But that comment that appeared at least in part at odds with Senate Republicans who on Monday told CNN that they felt in the dark about the White House's plans to fund the government.

"We've been very clear with members of both Republicans and Democrats. That House and the Senate on what we want to see," Sanders said.