Trump Backs Away From Demand for Border Wall Money

Cheryl Sanders
April 25, 2017

In the last week of the administration's first 100 days, President Donald Trump and his overworked White House staff are sprinting furiously to hit the historic milestone on a high note - even as the threat of a government shutdown looms.

Senior Trump administration officials involved in the talks about the spending bill are prepared to concede that in the main, the fight over funding for President Trump's border wall will now be put off until the fiscal 2018 negotiations.

For now, the chances of a shutdown appear very low.

If negotiations have slowed or stalled, Congress could pursue a short-term extension of existing spending levels to avoid a government shutdown, giving lawmakers more time to reach a deal.

If no spending measure covering April 29 to Sept 30 is in place before 12.01am (12.01pm Singapore time) on Saturday, government funds will halt and hundreds of thousands of the country's several million federal employees will be temporarily laid off.

Trump however, told a gathering of around 20 conservative media reporters on Monday evening that he would wait to return to the wall funding issue until the fall, two people who were present during the briefing told the Associated Press on conditions of anonymity.

Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Democrats and Republicans have been negotiating well on a bill to fund the government beyond midnight Friday, when a stop-gap funding measure is set to expire. Congressional leaders in both parties had warned the White House that such a demand would unify Democrats in opposition at a moment when it's likely Republicans will need their votes to clear Friday's deadline.

As late as Monday afternoon the President was still pushing for border funding, but aides started to peddle ideas that perhaps Trump could still claim a win if there were boosted funding for border security-think drones and border guards, not bricks and barbed wire-as a way to save face.

"It was a mistake not to do this last November and December", Cole said in a phone interview.

One issue that remains unresolved is whether the five-month spending bill under negotiation would include payments to health insurers known as "cost-sharing reductions", as requested by Democrats. But the sense on Capitol Hill right now is that this is going to get done without too much fanfare. Trump tweeted on Monday, adding that "if the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be".

"The most important thing is to make sure the military is funded, to make sure the critical institutions of government are funded, and to make sure you don't have a shutdown while you've got a Republican president, a Republican Senate and a Republican House", Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., said on MSNBC.

Without the debate over the border wall, lawmakers may be able to come to an agreement on the spending bill relatively quickly.

"I'm not firing Sean Spicer", Trump said in response, our colleagues reported.

"I don't want to comment".

Trump, however, is confronted with the political reality: the Republican Party is not unified on any number of issues. His team promised deep tax cuts but dodged when asked how the government might pay for them.

As the West Wing embarks on the final sprint to the 100-day marker of Trump's presidency, top aides were thrown into the familiar pattern of rushing to match action to the President's words while publicly avoiding words that could box in a President who prides himself on remaining "flexible".

"But I'm sure everyone recognizes that in the first 100 days, he is balancing a healthcare bill, a tax reform bill and a budget environment that has placed him in a very hard position of turning the battleship around on a dime".

Sensing a split GOP, Democrats led by Schumer dug in their heels on funding for a still-hypothetical border wall. That could include funds for more border patrol agents or surveillance drones. Ryan promised that Congress will find the funding - but he was in no mood to rush it.

Other reports by iNewsToday