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It's "too soon" to say if shutdown will happen, Trump says

White House may try to avoid gov't shutdown
White House may try to avoid gov't shutdown 05:28

President Trump was ambiguous Tuesday about the chances of a government shutdown, declaring it "too early" to tell if a significant chunk of the federal government will close just three days shy of the funding deadline.

"We'll see what happens," the president told reporters Tuesday at a roundtable on school safety. 

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill he's sure Washington will avoid a shutdown, as Mr. Trump demands funding for his border wall and Democrats say they won't give it to him. 

Mr. Trump made the comments in response to reporters' questions during a roundtable discussion with family members of victims of the Parkland shooting and law enforcement officials. The group was there to discuss a Federal Commission on School Safety report that yielded more than 90 recommendations. 

The White House meeting came the same day the Justice Department announced it is finalizing a rule banning bump stocks, the device used in the Las Vegas shooting. Democrats claim the president has not done nearly enough on gun violence to help prevent another mass shooting. 

Stand with Parkland responded to the school safety report, lauding the administration for its efforts, and urging it to follow through with the recommendations. 

"This administration has a responsibility to address this issue and we look forward to working with you in the near future," Stand with Parkland said in a lengthy response. "The safety of our nation's students and staff members at school is an issue that must addressed in a bi-partisan manner because it benefits all Americans."

But the focus in Washington is the looming shutdown deadline. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a relatively rare press briefing Tuesday that the White House is looking for other possible ways to get the president $5 billion for the border wall, using existing federal funds. Agencies are currently reviewing how that might be feasible, she said. 

Sanders said the president will take a look at what the Senate passes and decide whether to sign it. But Republicans on Capitol Hill have suggested they don't really know where the president stands. On Monday night, Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said, "if the White House has a plan they are keeping it to themselves."

If Congress doesn't reach an agreement that Mr. Trump signs, more than 400,000 federal employees will have to work without pay and an additional 380,000 will be furloughed without pay, according to a report from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

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