President Donald Trump said Thursday that a government shutdown would hurt the U.S. military worse than any other sector of the government as lawmakers scramble to reach a spending deal to avert such an outcome.
"If the country shuts down, which could very well be … the worst thing is what happens to our military," Trump told reports outside the Pentagon, where he is meeting with top defense officials. "We're rebuilding our military, we're bringing it to a level that it's never been at, and the worst thing is for our military. We don't want that to happen."
"As you know, [the military has] been depleted over the last long period of time, and when we finish there won't be anything like it," Trump added. "We need that now more than almost any time in the past."
Trump's comments came a day before Secretary of Defense James Mattis is set to unveil the administration's national defense strategy, and just weeks before the Pentagon sends its fiscal year 2019 budget request to Capitol Hill, the Navy Times noted.
Congress is working to pass a temporary spending measure by midnight Friday to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. The current short-term spending plan has met resistance, however.
Some Republican defense hawks in the House said the plan does not give enough money to the military, and many congressional Democrats have indicated they will not vote for any government-funding bill unless it protects Dreamers, immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children, from deportation.
In the event of a shutdown, many service members in the military may miss a paycheck and have to be reimbursed later.
Trump on Thursday blamed Democrats for a potential shutdown; he also accused them of wanting to blunt the impacts of the tax reform plan that he signed into law last month.