White House budget director Mick Mulvaney scolded CNN reporter Jim Acosta's question Friday suggesting that Republicans could not blame Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) for a potential government shutdown, saying Acosta knew an appropriations bill could not be passed without some Democratic votes.
Senate Democrats are nearly united in opposition to the short-term spending bill passed in the House Thursday because it does not offer protections for the "Dreamers," the term for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who were shielded from deportation under President Barack Obama's 2012 DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) executive order.
President Donald Trump rescinded DACA in September and gave Congress six months to find a legal solution.
The government will shut down at the end of Friday if the Senate doesn't get 60 votes on the spending bill passed in the House.
Acosta, noting Mulvaney referred to the situation as the "Schumer shutdown" at the outset of the briefing—the term is also a Twitter hashtag—asked how it could be the Democrats' fault when the GOP controls the White House and both houses of Congress.
"Come on. You know the answer to that as well as anybody," Mulvaney said. "I have to laugh when people say that … You know as well as anybody that it takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass an appropriations bill. Right? You know that."
"I know that," Acosta said.
"OK, you only have 51 votes in the Senate, then you have to have Democrat support in order to fund the government. So that's the answer to your question," Mulvaney said.
Acosta retorted that Trump asked Congress to create a permanent legal solution for the "Dreamers" protected by the DACA program, and the "whole process got blown up" by Trump's reported comments referring to African nations as "s—hole" countries.
Mulvaney returned to the 2013 budget impasse, when Republicans tried to defund Obamacare as a part of budget talks and ultimately forced a shutdown.
"We were accused by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer of inserting a non-financial issue into the spending process in order to shut the government down. How is that not exactly what is happening today?" Mulvaney asked.
Mulvaney said there was no need to deal with DACA—which expires March 5— this week.
"This is purely an attempt by the Senate Democrats, led by Mr. Schumer, it's why we call it the Schumer shutdown, in order to try and get a shutdown that they think this president gets blamed for," he said.