Chris Wallace and Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney sparred in a war of words on Fox News Sunday, with the host asking if the Trump Administration is holding health care “hostage” to fund the building of a border wall.
“The president has said there are a number of items he’d like to see in his government funding bill. Which are so important that he’s willing to see the government shut down if he doesn’t get them?” Wallace asked.
Mulvaney downplayed the possibility of a government shutdown when Wallace asked about it, saying that the Trump Administration is simply trying to get the point across that getting the wall built is a primary goal, saying, “We want our priorities funded, and one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security,” better known as the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Wallace pressed on, “Let me ask you a direct question, sir. Will he sign a government funding bill that does not include funding for the border wall?”
That was something Mulvaney (or anyone, for that matter) was prepared to answer. What he was able to say, however, was that the GOP was offering to give Democrats some of their priorities, in exchange for wall funding. That “offer” was about a proposed dollar-for-dollar deal in which any payments made for Affordable Care Act subsidies would be matched with payments for Donald Trump’s border wall, the core pitch of his presidential campaign.
“They’ve made it very clear they want these cost-sharing reduction payments as part of Obamacare,” Mulvaney said. “We don’t like those very much, but we have offered to open the discussion to give Democrats something they want in order to get something we want.”
Wallace pushed harder, telling the OMB Director, “Democrats say that is a non-starter and that what you’re in effect doing with that trade is that you are holding hostage health insurance for millions of lower-income Americans.”
But Mulvaney countered, saying that it’s the Democrats holding national security hostage.
Wallace came in for a final question on the topic: “Some people wonder, director, how much leverage you have. I mean, if what you’re saying is ‘give us what we want and if you don’t, we’re going to cut off funding that would provide health insurance for millions of lower-income Americans. Are you willing to take that political hit?”
“I’m not going to negotiate with you on national television on Sunday,” Mulvaney retorted. “We’ll negotiate with the Democrats. And the negotiations are not finished yet.”
Watch Mulvaney’s interview in the clip above.