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Trump’s baffling tweet about CHIP and the government shutdown, explained

The president tweets a policy position — and it’s the opposite of what congressional Republicans want.

President Trump Hosts Kazakh President Nazarbayev At The White House Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump appeared to throw a wrench into congressional budget negotiations on Thursday morning — tweeting a policy position fundamentally at odds with that of Republicans on the Hill.

Trump tweeted early Thursday that Congress shouldn’t attach funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to a short-term budget bill.

But attaching CHIP funding to a short-term budget bill is literally the plan that congressional Republicans are currently pushing on Capitol Hill. Congress needs to pass at least short-term government funding by Friday or the government will shut down.

Republicans believe they can entice Democrats to vote for a spending bill that doesn’t include a deal on immigration by including a six-year extension of CHIP. So for this past week, CHIP’s extension has been part of the short-term budget deal the party has offered Republicans.

“After Democrats slammed Republicans for not caring about sick children for months, the GOP is turning the tables on Democrats with the government funding package with CHIP provisions,” a Republican congressional aide recently told the Daily Beast. “Democrats are faced with a choice to eat their words or support a Republican vote.”

What to make of the president’s tweet? Jonathan Swan at Axios tweeted that his Republican sources were trying to “decipher” this tweet. But some have already written it off as inconsequential, likely the result of a news segment the president may have seen.

“Guaranteed the President is misunderstanding what’s going on based on something he saw on TV and we’ll see a corrective tweet in the next hour or so,” one Republican congressional aide close to the CHIP negotiations told Vox.