President Trump knows that when the new Congress is sworn in and Democrats hold a majority in the House of Representatives, the political climate will change and his legislative agenda will be harder if not flat-out impossible to pass. So, the president is trying to get one of the major pieces of his legislative agenda, funding for a southern border wall, passed before the year’s end.
After accepting small funding packages here and there to avoid prior shutdowns, it seems the president is not taking no for an answer this time.
Trump is looking to utilize a looming deadline for government funding to score $5 billion for the border wall. As Politico reports, the president is willing to force a government shutdown should Congress not comply with the request.
For the last two years, congressional Republicans have persuaded President Donald Trump to delay the fight to fund his border wall, convincing him he would pay a steep political price for such a high-stakes legislative brawl.
Trump is done waiting.
Nine days ahead of a deadline that could trigger a partial government shutdown, with no solution in sight, the president told POLITICO in a Tuesday Oval Office interview that he is unflinchingly firm Congress must send him a bill approving $5 billion for his wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, and said he would “totally be willing” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get it. Democratic leaders — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) — have said they would approve $1.6 billion for the wall, placing the two sides billions of dollars apart as the lame-duck session begins.
Under prior short-term funding options, Congress allocated funding for border security or for the enhancement of existing border elements, not the construction of a new border wall. Trump is done with the runaround and said he wants $5 billion for the wall, adding “The number is larger for border security.”
“I don’t do anything … just for political gain,” Trump continued. “But I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border, they look at the rush to the police, they look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, three very brave border patrol folks — I think that it’s a tremendous issue, but much more importantly, is really needed. So we have to have border security.”
“I am firm,” Trump added, when asked about the $5 billion mark, suggesting he would not settle for anything less.
According to the report, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise recently met with Trump alongside other House leaders and told reporters after the meeting that “the president has been very clear that he needs $5 billion to properly secure the border. We need to be there for him and make sure this gets signed.”
Here’s more on that meeting, per Politico:
Trump also signaled he was in no mood to strike a large-scale immigration deal with Democrats. Asked if he was open to a compromise to legalize so-called Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — the president said he would prefer to wait for court challenges to wrap up. He predicted the legality of the Obama-era program to defer deportations would be decided by the Supreme Court, which the Justice Department recently said it would soon petition for a ruling.
If the court determined DACA is illegal, Trump said he’d be willing to make a deal on “border security and everything else.”
“I have big heart for DACA,” he said. “I want to be able to keep them. But if the court rules properly, there will be no problem with DACA and we’ll get everything solved. If the court rules in favor of Obama having that right, it’s going to be a disaster because we will get nothing, we will get nothing done.”