President Donald Trump made clear on Tuesday, July 31, that he’s serious about shutting down the government if Congress fails to pass new immigration and border security measures like border wall funding.
Trump sounded off the likelihood of a government shutdown at least twice since the weekend, starting with a tweet on Sunday, July 29, saying that he was “willing to ‘shut down’ government if Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!”
He doubled down on the threat on Monday, July 30, during a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, saying, “If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown.”
He added that the U.S. was the “laughing stock of the world,” and had the “worst immigration laws anywhere in the world.”
While the initial shutdown remarks did alarm some Republican lawmakers, others also seemed confident that Trump wouldn’t shut the government down as the political risk seemed too great in light of the upcoming midterm elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post on Monday, July 30 that he was sure Congress would be able to avoid a shutdown.
But Trump said Tuesday afternoon that he didn’t care about the political consequences.
He tweeted, “I don’t care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown.”
“Border security is National Security, and National Security is the long-term viability of our Country,” Trump added in a following tweet. “A Government Shutdown is a very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!”
The latest shutdown threat followed a tweet he posted that referenced a Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography report showing an increased homicide count in Mexico for the year 2017.
Bad timing, say Republicans
Trump’s shutdown threats came several days after GOP lawmakers were said to have come up with a plan to avoid a government shutdown before the November midterm elections.
Trump has threatened a government shutdown over border wall funding before — in February, he said that he would “love to see a shut down if we can’t get this stuff taken care off” — but the timing of the recent comments is what lawmakers, including Republican, are most worried about.
If a government shutdown were to occur, it would happen in September — close to elections where Republicans are hoping to keep a stronghold in Congress.
At a meeting with Trump last Wednesday, July 25, McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan reached an agreement with the president that funding for the wall would not have to be reached by the end of the current financing period.
McConnell also reportedly warned Trump that pursuing a fight over border wall funding could hinder Trump’s nominee Brett Kavanaugh from taking the vacant Supreme Court seat.
On Tuesday, McConnell and other Senate GOP lawmakers said that they are still following their plan to approve 9 of the 12 spending bills by the end of August.
“We’re trying to go through a normal appropriations process that prevents a big event at the end of the fiscal year, which has become all too common around here,” said McConnell, as quoted by the Washington Post.
“Hopefully we don’t get to that position at the end of the fiscal year,” he added.
Responding to Trump’s earlier shutdown threats, the New York Times quoted Republican Rep. Tom Cole saying: “We’re going to have a challenging midterm anyways, and I don’t see how putting the attention on shutting down the government when you control the government is going to help you.”
On CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who serves as chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, similarly said he didn’t think the shutdown would be helpful, “so let’s try and avoid it.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told NPR’s “Morning Edition” that the shutdown issue puts Republicans “in a bad position.” He dismissed Trump’s blame on Democrats and said that because Republicans hold majority in both the House and the Senate, they could pass funding for the wall if they wanted.
“Many Republicans don’t want to spend $25 billion to $40 billion on a wall when they don’t have enough money for medical research, for cancer research, for rebuilding some of our water supplies in the United States,” said Leahy.
Trump has yet to receive the full $25 billion he requested, but House Republicans last month in July released a spending bill that puts $5 billion towards Trump’s wall next year.
Asked on Monday whether the $25 billion was a red line, Trump said he didn’t have a red line, and “always leaves room for negotiation.”
“I just want great border security,” said Trump.
A government shutdown usually happens when Congress is unable to pass a budget. The deadline for the next budget is September 30. (Rae Ann Varona /AJPress)