In quick reversal, Trump threatens
shutdown over border wall
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[September 06, 2018]
By Susan Cornwell and Roberta Rampton
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald
Trump said on Wednesday he would be willing to shut down the U.S.
government if Congress does not provide enough funding for border
security, reversing a stance he took a day earlier.
Trump made his comments at a meeting with congressional Republican
leaders at the White House about the legislative agenda for the next few
months, including extending government funding past a Sept. 30 deadline.
He said Congress was making "tremendous progress" on funding, but that
he wanted to make good on a promise to fund border security. Trump has
repeatedly threatened not to sign funding legislation if Congress fails
to include enough money for a wall on the border with Mexico.
Trump reiterated that threat on Wednesday. Responding to a reporter's
question about a possible shutdown, he said: "If it happens, it happens.
If it's about border security, I'm willing to do anything. We have to
protect our borders."
His stance contradicts an interview he gave to the Daily Caller on
Tuesday, when he said: "I don't like the idea of shutdowns."
"I donít see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right
now," Trump was quoted as saying.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, in an interview with Fox News,
called the meeting with Trump a "good discussion" and said he expected
the president to sign funding bills before the end of fiscal year,
averting a shutdown.
McConnell said there was "no chance" of a government shutdown.
"We are still in favor of the wall. We still want to get funding for the
wall. But we think the best time to have that discussion is after the
election," he said.
Republican lawmakers had welcomed Trump's move away from a possible
government shutdown, saying party leaders wanted "no drama" ahead of the
Nov. 6 election to decide whether fellow conservatives keep hold of
House Republicans, who were leaving a closed-door party meeting held on
Capitol Hill before Trump made his remarks, said the message from
leadership was aimed at avoiding any crises before the midterm contest,
an approach echoed by several Republican senators.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a Republican representative with
close ties to the administration, said he did not expect the federal
government to shut, and that any decision on the controversial issue of
funding border security would likely be delayed.
[to top of second column]
President Donald Trump delivers remarks before signing an executive
order on strengthening retirement security in America at Harris
Conference Center in Charlotte, NC, U.S., August 31, 2018.
"We were told no drama," Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky
conservative, said after the closed-door meeting.
The planned border wall, the Trump administration's ban on travel
from several mostly Muslim countries and other immigration issues
loom large as Americans prepare to head to the polls in November.
Trump campaigned heavily on a promise to build a wall that would be
paid for by Mexico, which it has refused to do. He has subsequently
turned to Congress to seek $25 billion for the project, along with
other immigration demands.
Still, lawmakers have not reached a consensus on any immigration
While a few conservatives like Republican Representative Jim Jordan
insist the border issue should be dealt with now, others seem
resigned to waiting at least until the new Congress takes office in
January following the election.
Trump and U.S. lawmakers averted a government shutdown in March
after passing a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the
government through Sept. 30.
A shutdown could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans for
any federal government service disruptions.
"It doesnít benefit anybody, certainly not Republicans," Republican
Senator Jeff Flake said.
(Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Eric Beech; editing by
Bernadette Baum, Tom Brown and Diane Craft)
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