WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump visited the Pentagon on Thursday to demonstrate his support for Defense Secretary James Mattis and the US Armed Forces in the face of a possible government shutdown, which could occur on Friday and would freeze most military spending.
“We’ll see what happens, it’s up to the Democrats,” Trump told reporters, adding “If the country shuts down, which could very well be, the budget should be handled a lot differently than it’s been handled over the last long period of time, many years.”
Trump told the media that he had come to the Pentagon to express his support for the military, saying, “If for any reason it shuts down the worst thing is what happens to our military.”
On Friday, a vote is scheduled in Congress on the federal budget bill, but if Republicans and Democrats cannot agree on the measure this could lead to a government shutdown due the exhaustion of heretofore allocated funds or to another temporary spending measure such as the one that is currently financing government operations.
The lack of a budget agreement would force the Armed Forces to operate under severe spending constraints and would not provide top commanders with sufficient funding to face new threats or deal with new issues.
If a government shutdown does occur, all US military personnel would stop receiving their paychecks and vendors would not receive payment for their services or products, although the Pentagon would continue allocating the funds needed for missions and operations designed to safeguard lives, military sources said.
The president said that the Armed Forces would “lose big” if it were to be denied sufficient funding, adding that the US “never needed our military more than now” and declaring that “our military has to be the best by far.”
Despite the fact that a government shutdown would be a situation that presumably would not help either party, immigration policy – on which the GOP and Democrats have radically different stances and which Democrats want to link to their approval of the budget – has become an obstacle that will be difficult to overcome.
That is why numerous experts are pointing to Trump’s visit to the Pentagon as a pressure tactic being employed against Democrats to get them to bend and back the White House’s budget proposal.