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Government needs a good shutdown, tweets frustrated Trump

Donald Trump has said the US government "needs a good shutdown" to fix a "mess" in the Senate, signalling on Twitter his displeasure with a bill to keep operations running.

But Republican leaders and the president himself also praised the stop-gap measure as a major accomplishment and a sign of his masterful negotiating with Democrats.

On the defensive, Mr Trump and his allies issued a flurry of contradictory statements ahead of key votes in Congress on a 1.1 trillion-dollar spending bill to keep the government at full speed through September.

After advocating for a future shutdown, the president hailed the budget agreement as a boost for the military, border security and other top priorities.

"This is what winning looks like," Mr Trump said during a ceremony honouring the Air Force Academy football team.

"Our Republican team had its own victory - under the radar," he added, calling the bill "a clear win for the American people".

Later, the White House said he would indeed sign the bill.

But Mr Trump's morning tweets hardly signalled a win and came after Democrats gleefully claimed victory in denying him much of his wish list despite being the minority party.

They sounded a note of defeat, blaming Senate rules for a budget plan that merited closing most government operations.

But the White House then rallied to make the case to the public - and perhaps to a president who famously hates losing - that he actually had prevailed in the negotiations.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney briefed reporters twice within a few hours to adamantly declare the administration's success.

He was joined at his second briefing by homeland security secretary John Kelly and Mr Trump himself used the normally non-political football ceremony to proclaim his own success.

Mr Mulvaney, criticising Democrats for celebrating, said Mr Trump was "frustrated with the fact that he negotiated in good faith with the Democrats and they went out and tried to spike the football to make him look bad".

Asked how the president would define a "good shutdown", Mr Mulvaney suggested: "It would be one that fixes this town."

Mr Trump's embrace of such a disruptive event came days after he accused Senate Democrats of seeking that same outcome and obstructing majority Republicans during budget negotiations.

Members announced pn Sunday that they had reached an agreement to avoid a shutdown until October 1 - a deal that does not include several provisions sought by Mr Trump, including money for a border wall.

It also came at the start of a week in which the House of Representatives is considering a possible vote on a health care overhaul that would repeal and replace Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

The spending bill is set for a House vote on Wednesday, when it is likely to win widespread bi-partisan support, though a host of Republican conservatives will oppose the measure, calling it a missed opportunity.

House speaker Paul Ryan defended the package, calling it an "important first step in the right direction" that included a "big down-payment" on border security and the military.

And Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said the bill "delivers some important conservative wins".

In fact, the White House had praised the deal on Monday as a win for the nation's military, health benefits for coal miners and other Trump priorities.

But by Tuesday morning, the president sounded off on Twitter, saying: "The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there!"

He added that we "either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51 (per cent). Our country needs a good 'shutdown' in September to fix mess!"

That contradicted Mr Trump's message of less than a week ago when he tweeted that Democrats were threatening to close national parks as part of the negotiations "and shut down the government. Terrible!"

He also tweeted at the time that he had promised to "rebuild our military and secure our border. Democrats want to shut down the government. Politics!".

His Tuesday tweets about Senate procedures came after Senate Republicans recently triggered the "nuclear option" to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold for confirming Supreme Court judge Neil Gorsuch.

That change allowed the Senate to hold a final vote to approve Mr Gorsuch with a simple majority, an approach that has not been used for legislation.

Any future shutdown would probably cost the government billions.

The 16-day partial shutdown in 2013 cost 24 billion dollars, according to Moody's and Standard and Poor's. That included lost revenue for the national parks.

"President Trump may not like what he sees in this budget deal, but it's dangerous and irresponsible to respond by calling for a shutdown," said Democratic senator Patty Murray.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said the spending agreement came from a "bipartisan negotiation", adding, "The leaders - Democrat, Republican, House and Senate - work well together. And why ruin that?"

AP

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