President Donald Trump signaled Wednesday that he might side with some Republican lawmakers and delay a government shutdown showdown until after November’s midterm elections.
“Now, the shutdown could also take place after the election. I happen to think it’s a great political thing, because people want border security,” Trump said on the Rush Limbaugh radio program.
He acknowledged some Republicans would “rather do it after” the election, referring to a fight over funding for his proposed southern border wall and several immigration policy measures such as ending the diversity immigrant visa lottery and the family-based immigration. The president raised eyebrows in Washington and around the country Sunday morning when he threatened a third federal funding lapse on his watch over the immigration matter.
“They’d rather do it after. They don’t agree on doing it before, and I accept their opinion, but I happen to think it would be a good thing to do before,” Trump said of his fellow Republicans. “I actually think we’d get more and there’d be more pressure on the other side, because we’re doing it because the Democrats are not giving us the votes.”
Watch: Trump’s Tweets, Shutdown Threats Muddy the Waters Less Than 100 Days From Midterms
The White House first opened the door to a postelection funding and immigration fight on Tuesday evening as Trump flew to Florida for a political rally.
“He said whether a shutdown happens before or after the elections, his focus is getting the problem fixed. It’s been a 40-year problem in the making, it’s been dumped on his plate, he wants to fix it,” Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley told pool reporters on Air Force One after saying he spoke to the president about that matter
Like his boss did earlier on Twitter, however, Gidley signaled Trump is willing to take a midterm hit if he can secure a sweeping immigration overhaul package.
“There’s much more at stake here than political fallout,” he said. “This is about protecting a country and protecting a nation."
Once onstage at the Tampa rally, however, Trump again threatened a shutdown, telling a friendly crowd he might be forced to do something “drastic” to force Democrats to sign off on his immigration priorities and desired border wall funding.
House and Senate GOP leaders last week advised Trump to be patient on wall funding, and thought he was on board. And the president has yet to signal if the $5 billion that a House spending bill proposes for the border barrier would suffice. The Senate's version of the same homeland security bill would allocate only $1.6 billion.
Lawmakers could try to finish all or most other annual spending measures before the elections, leaving the homeland security measure until mid-November.