Trump signals retreat on wall funding, but shutdown threat remains

Cheryl Sanders
December 19, 2018

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders signaled the Trump administration may back down on its forceful threats to shut down the US government over a dispute with Democratic lawmakers over border wall funding, in a Tuesday morning interview on Fox News.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer stressed there are not enough votes in Congress to pass wall funding, and that it would be up to Trump to repeal his demand.

The government needs to fund seven remaining appropriations bills, and six are close to completion, officials in both parties said.

Prospects of a partial USA government shutdown surged Tuesday after Democrats rejected what they said was President Donald Trump's request for a "slush fund" to build a wall on the United States border with Mexico. At the time, he insisted that he was "firm" on this point. If Congress does not pass a spending bill before December 21, the government will partially shut down.

Join us for tomorrow's exciting adventure in Shutdown Theater - "Make a Run for the Border", or "If a Bill Fell in Congress and No One Was Around, Would It Rate a Tweet?"

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security", the president said last week. "We want to shut down the border from illegal immigration".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters Tuesday that he does not believe there will be a government shutdown before Christmas.

McConnell later told reporters he will now consider punting into next year as a possible alternative to the options Democrats presented, with the caveat he had to determine what the White House was willing to accept. They had proposed keeping funding at current levels of $1.3 billion for border security fencing and other improvements, but not for the wall.

"At the end of the day we don't want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border", Sanders said in a Fox News interview.

He appeared to ease that stance early on Tuesday when the White House said it did not want a shutdown and was looking for "other ways" to obtain funding, including getting Congress to reprogramme US$1 billion in unspent funds so Trump could use them on his immigration policies. "The president's asked every agency to look and see if they have money that can be used for that objective and that's exactly what we're doing". The House does not meet until this Wednesday evening, leaving little time before funding for the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department expires Friday at midnight.

On Monday Trump launched a fresh attack on the opposition party and its offer of wall-less border security funding.

Frustrated that neither Mexico nor Congress will pay for his border wall, President Donald Trump has directed his Cabinet to scrounge through the executive branch couch cushions to see what they can come up with. The shutdown could affect more than 800,000 federal workers, including at least 420,000 who would be working without pay.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they would blame Trump and Republicans for a shutdown, compared to 24 percent blaming Democrats, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University Poll.

Congress already approved funding this year for about 75 percent of the government's discretionary account for the budget year that began October 1.

Other reports by iNewsToday