Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have spoken loud and clear in response to President Donald Trump’s threat to shut down the government over funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border: We don’t want another shutdown.
Republicans are worried that such an occurrence just a month before the November elections could compromise their congressional majorities in a midterm year that historically swings back to the party that does not control the White House.
“We’re going to have a challenging midterm anyway, and I don’t see how putting the attention on shutting down the government when you control the government is going to help you,” GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, told The New York Times.
Rep. Steve Stivers, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, downplayed the possibility of a shutdown.
“I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government,” the Ohio lawmaker told ABC News on Sunday. “We’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration.”
Trump took to Twitter over the weekend to lob his shutdown threat.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” he tweeted Sunday morning.
We must have Border Security, get rid of Chain, Lottery, Catch & Release Sanctuary Cities - go to Merit based Immigration. Protect ICE and Law Enforcement and, of course, keep building, but much faster, THE WALL!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2018
Democrats were furious with the president for renewing his threat to block funding for the government over demands for a project along the southern border that they see as both expensive and futile.
“President Trump should stay on the golf course and stay out of the appropriations process,” a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Democrats are committed to keeping government open.”
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine took a page out of Trump’s book by giving him a simple new nickname.
“President Shutdown is at it again,” he tweeted Sunday. The 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee questioned whether the president “realizes this is not a game.”
President Shutdown is at it again - how many times will he threaten to shut down the government—putting Virginia’s and our nation’s economy at risk, as well as the livelihoods of thousands of federal workers—before he realizes this is not a game? https://t.co/5vQz3f6vBS— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) July 29, 2018
Rep. Katherine Clark, a House Appropriations member, pointed out that the burden of funding the president’s wall wasn’t even supposed to fall on the country’s shoulders.
“The President is threatening to shut down the government that serves the American people unless those same American people pay for a boondoggle of a wall that he promised Mexico would pay for,” Clark wrote on Twitter.
Another day, another temper tantrum. The President is threatening to shut down the government that serves the American people unless those same American people pay for a boondoggle of a wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. https://t.co/zgn6fbM1O1— Katherine Clark (@RepKClark) July 29, 2018
Lawmakers have a lot of work ahead of them to strike deals for fiscal 2019 spending bills. The border security package is just one element of one of the 12 Appropriations measures Congress needs to send to the president’s desk before the new year rolls around Oct. 1.
On his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, Trump got $1.6 billion last year. A House spending bill for fiscal 2019 proposes $5 billion for the project, while a Senate measure proposes the same amount as the previous year.
It was not immediately clear if Trump was referring to an extra $5 billion in fiscal 2019 that White House officials floated in recent months or the full funding for the project, which the administration has estimated to cost $18 billion to $25 billion.
But Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby and other spending-focused lawmakers have told Trump personally several times that the $1.6 billion amount is likely all that can get through the chamber this year.
If Democrats, Republicans and Trump cannot strike a deal by Oct. 1 and the government shuts down, it would be the third funding lapse of his tenure.
John T. Bennett contributed to this report.
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