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Trump Threatens Government Shutdown Over Border Wall Mexico Is Supposed To Pay For

Trump Border Wall

During his speech last night in Arizona, President Trump threatened to cause a government shutdown unless Congress funds the border wall he promised during his campaign would be paid for by Mexico:

WASHINGTON — President Trump issued an extraordinary challenge to his own party late Tuesday, threatening to shut down the government in a matter of weeks if Congress did not fund a wall on the southern border that was a signature promise of his campaign for the White House.

Mr. Trump followed up on that threat on Wednesday by going after a key Republican senator on Twitter who has been skeptical of building a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is also one of two Republican senators up for re-election next year in a swing state, and the president has put his finger on the scale toward a primary challenger, Kelli Ward.

On Tuesday night, he told a rowdy crowd in Phoenix, “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall.”

“We’re going to have our wall,” he added. “The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall.”

Tuesday’s admonition sharpened a suggestion that Mr. Trump made early this year, in the wake of a budget agreement he grudgingly accepted even though it omitted money for the wall, that the United States needed “a good ‘shutdown’“ this fall to force a partisan confrontation over federal spending. His campaign promise stressed that Mexico would pay for the border barrier, but that part of the promise seems to have dropped away.

Hard-line conservative nationalists such as Stephen K. Bannon, the chief strategist ousted from the White House last week, have counseled the president to take a hard line on wall funding to buck up his political base after the embarrassing defeat of legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But the president’s Tuesday-night salvo introduced fresh and potentially explosive irritant into his relationship with congressional Republicans, whose backing he badly needs in the coming weeks.

The president wants to push through a tax overhaul by year’s end, which would require Republicans to approve a budget to trigger special procedures — known as reconciliation — that would allow the package to pass the Senate with only 51 votes, instead of the 60 required to bring most legislation to an up-or-down vote.

A budget resolution is always difficult, but it will probably become entangled in another divisive issue, the debt ceiling: The Treasury Department has estimated that the government will reach its borrowing limit sometime in October, at which point Congress will have to vote to increase the debt limit to avoid a default.

Most pressing, the government will run out of money on Oct. 1 unless Congress acts to approve new government spending bills. It would probably the first time a government shut down while under complete control of one party. But in that conflict, the president may have handed Senate Democrats the whip. They can now filibuster any spending bill that contains wall funding, forcing Republicans to strip out the money and challenge Mr. Trump to veto it.

On Wednesday, Democrats quickly signaled they were willing to do just that.

“If the president pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading toward a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything,” said Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader.

Representative Nita M. Lowey of New York, the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, called the president’s threat “the polar opposite of leadership,” and said government money should instead be spent on health care, education and job creation, among other pressing needs.

“If the president follows through on his threat to shut down the government, he and his enablers should be held fully accountable,” Ms. Lowey said.

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post calls Trump’s shutdown threat his ‘silliest threat yet’:

A shutdown over a popular issue would be one thing, but an overwhelming majority of voters tell pollsters they do not want a wall. In January, voters in a Post-ABC poll disapproved of the wall by 60 percent to 37 percent; Pew Research found in February that they disapproved by 62 percent to 35 percent. As for Quinnipiac, “Five polls conducted over the past months show that an increasing number of voters oppose building a wall, and that support for a wall has been waning. In November, 55 percent were opposed, while 42 percent were in support. By March and April, 64 percent said they were opposed, while 33 percent said they were in favor.”

When the issue of the wall came up earlier this year, not a single border-state lawmaker supported the idea. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Not a single member of Congress who represents the territory on the southwest border said they support President Donald Trump’s request for $1.4 billion to begin construction of his promised wall, according to a Wall Street Journal survey.”

It’s worth noting that the popularity of a particular issue hasn’t necessarily been a controlling factor in whether or not a shutdown occurs. During the last shutdown in 2013, for example, Republicans were seeking to stop the funding of the Affordable Care Act as a last-ditch effort to stop it from being implemented at the beginning of the next Fiscal Year. While polling at the time did show that public opinion regarding the PPACA was largely negative, that same polling also showed that the public largely disfavored the idea of shutting down the government over implementation of the law. Indeed, history has shown that the public reacts negatively any time there’s been a government shutdown regardless of the issue that one political party or the other may use to justify the shutdown. In this case, though,

That being said, Rubin is correct that it is particularly stupid to try to force a government shutdown over an issue that polling shows the public generally doesn’t support. Additionally, Trump’s threat is likely an empty one given the fact that he is unlikely to find much support even among Republicans in the House or the Senate for the idea of making border wall funding a hill to die on when it comes to passing a budget for the new Fiscal Year. While a budget with border wall funding would most likely easily pass the House, its chances in the Senate are far from clear. For a variety of reasons, such a budget package would require 60 votes to invoke cloture rather than qualifying for consideration under the Senate’s reconciliation rules, meaning that Republicans would have to both stay united in support of such a budget and find eight Democrats willing to vote in favor of a cloture motion to allow the budget to both open debate and to close debate and proceed to a final floor vote. As indicated above, that seems unlikely to happen. The natural response to this, of course, would be for the parties to negotiate and revise the budget to that it can get the sixty votes necessary to pass. Since a budget without border funding would likely pass the House easily, Trump’s only response at that point would be to veto the entire budget if it didn’t include border wall funding. At this point, the shutdown would be entirely a Republican problem and would be one caused entirely by the President of the United States over an issue that most Americans outside of Trump’s base don’t particularly care about. Moreover, given Trump’s deteriorating relationship with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his equally rocky relationship with House SPeaker Paul Ryan, the odds that Congressional and Senate Republicans would be inclined to help the President in this rather foolish endeavor, especially given the fact many of those same Republicans were around for the last shutdown and remember the negative impact it had on the party, at least in the short term.

The ironic thing about this, of course, is that Donald Trump spent the entire Presidential campaign promising that the wall would be built and that Mexico would pay for it. In response, Mexican government officials such as current President Enrique Peña Nieto and former President Vincente Fox have made it clear that the Mexican government would never agree to pay for the wall, and polling in that country has indicated that any indication that this would happen would likely lead to significant political blowback for any office holder that allowed it. This was further confirmed in a phone call between Trump and Nieto just days after Trump took office in which the two men reportedly got into something of a heated argument over the funding of the wall during which Nieto insisted that his country will never pay for the wall and that the option most often discussed by Trump, imposing taxes on Mexican goods imported into the United States, would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement and result in Mexico imposing retaliatory tariffs on the United States and seeking rulings against the U.S. from the World Trade Organization. Now, President Trump is saying that he wants the American taxpayer to pay for the wall, and threatening to shut down the government over an issue that nobody outside the Trump base even cares about.

All of this could be a bluff by Trump, of course, but that seems unlikely. While he hasn’t shown much interest in legislative matters so far in his Presidency, border wall funding is more than just a legislative matter, it’s a matter that was central to his campaign for the White House and one that polling continues to show is at least important to his base. Because of that, it could very well be the case that Trump will risk a shutdown over this ridiculous wall of his even though it is a fight that he clearly can’t win.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    With the caveat that no one should listen to my opinion on the mindset of the American electorate, here’s that opion: Anger is causing Trump to make a miscalculation here. If he makes a big deal about this, it will snap back in his face like no other issue. It is just too easy to write the copy, “Trump threatens government shutdown because Congress won’t pay for his wall which he swore up and down the Mexicans would pay for.” Of course the comedians will be saying it, and endlessly rerunning the thousands of times he bragged that Mexico would pay for it. But I suspect Fox News will be saying it, and rerunning those clips. And the Republicans will certainly be saying it. As will the WSJ editorial page. It’s just too easy to say, and too easy to understand. It will break through to his base.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  2. Mark Ivey says:

    “President Trump is saying that he wants the American taxpayer to pay for the wall, and threatening to shut down the government over an issue that nobody outside the Trump base even cares about.”

    Sad.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  3. Mikey says:

    @MarkedMan:

    It will break through to his base.

    If it does, it will be the first thing to succeed in doing so.

    I am not nearly so optimistic as you are. I mean, if sympathizing with Nazis didn’t, what possibly could?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 0

  4. MarkedMan says:

    Don’t get me wrong, by “breaking through to his base” I don’t mean that they will drop him like the steaming turn he is. I mean they will have a little less enthusiasm. He’ll fill smaller venues. There will be fewer of his people showing up at the midterm polls. Heck, that might even help the normal Republicans.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  5. Mu says:

    Any budget that can get 60 votes in the senate should be able to override a veto. And we know already from the Russian sanction bill that Trump hates to lose, so he rather signs than risk an override

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  6. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @Mikey:

    … if sympathizing with Nazis didn’t, what possibly could?

    Holding a mirror up doesn’t guarantee that the person will either look OR see.

    After all, if you ask the folks at the Phoenix rally if they were racist, they would likely say no… even though they likely would want to round up people of color just to check ID’s, say that voting is at risk due to no Voter ID law, and damn well support a wall.

    So, Nazi’s bad… but DON’T YOU DARE CALL ‘EM A RACIST !!!

    (… it’s heritage, after all; and that makes it sound nice.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. MarkedMan says:

    I think the one thing that would break through to a significant number of Trump dead-enders (25%?) if repeated often enough:

    Trump says things I like. He says things you like. But he’s a liar. He says what we want to hear but doesn’t mean any of it. And if you look back at your life, when has putting your faith in a liar ever turned out well?

    The reason I think this might work is because poll show that even his supporters know he lies.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  8. CSK says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Most of them probably realize by now–though they’d never admit it–that he lies as easily and naturally as he breathes, but he’s really good at annoying all the people they hate, a group consisting of:

    1. Republicans
    2. Democrats
    3. East coast liberals
    4. West coast liberals
    5. New Englanders
    6. New Yorkers
    7. Members of the press
    8. Academics
    9. Artists
    10. Writers
    11. Entertainers

    That seems to “trump” any other consideration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  9. James Pearce says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I mean they will have a little less enthusiasm.

    Perhaps, but I can’t think of any scenario where his base gets mad at Trump if he sticks them with the bill for the wall.

    It’s not a scenario of “We don’t want the wall if we have to pay for it.” It’s more like, “We want the wall…no matter what we gotta do to get it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. Liberal Capitalist says:

    After all, if you ask the folks at the Phoenix rally if they were racist, they would likely say no… even though they likely would want to round up people of color just to check ID’s, say that voting is at risk due to no Voter ID law, and damn well support a wall.

    Damn… Sometimes I’m just a bit too fast before the news…

    http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2017/08/trump-holds-steady-after-charlottesville-supporters-think-whites-christians-face-discrimination.html

    PPP’s newest national poll finds that Donald Trump’s approval rating is pretty steady in the wake of the Charlottesville attack, probably because his supporters think that whites and Christians are the most oppressed groups of people in the country. 40% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing to 53% who disapprove, little change from the 41/55 spread we found for him in July.

    The reason Trump hasn’t lost more ground for his widely panned response to the attack is probably that many of his supporters agree with some of the beliefs that led white supremacists to rally in Charlottesville in the first place. Asked what racial group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 45% of Trump voters say it’s white people followed by 17% for Native Americans with 16% picking African Americans, and 5% picking Latinos. Asked what religious group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 54% of Trump voters says it’s Christians followed by 22% for Muslims and 12% for Jews. There is a mindset among many Trump voters that it’s whites and Christians getting trampled on in America that makes it unlikely they would abandon Trump over his ‘both sides’ rhetoric.

    Yep.

    I don’t understand all the hand-wringing and pondering why Trump was elected.

    A large number of Trump voters are racists, and they have NO problem with the racist things that Trump says and does.

    It is just that simple.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  11. Kylopod says:

    Trump has a remarkable habit of issuing threats in situations over which he has little or no control.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  12. An Interested Party says:

    There is a mindset among many Trump voters that it’s whites and Christians getting trampled on in America that makes it unlikely they would abandon Trump over his ‘both sides’ rhetoric.

    I wonder how many whites and Christians in general agree with this…how pathetic that so many people would be so self-pitying and so self-delusional…gone are the days when so many Americans fought their way out of the Great Depression and won World War II…I’m sure those people, dealing with far greater struggles, didn’t feel so persecuted…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. SenyorDave says:

    @An Interested Party: I’m sure those people, dealing with far greater struggles, didn’t feel so persecuted…

    The Trump supporters are delusional in thinking they are the oppressed parties. I do think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would have said in the 1930’s or 1940’s that whites were more discriminated against than blacks. It would be hard to believe anyone could be that crazy as to believe that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. CSK says:

    Trump’s “spiritual advisor,” televangelist Paula White, has claimed that Trump was sent to us by God, and moreover compares him to Queen Esther.

    I remember when the Palinistas were comparing Palin to Queen Esther.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  15. Kylopod says:

    @SenyorDave:

    I do think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would have said in the 1930’s or 1940’s that whites were more discriminated against than blacks.

    Virtually every racist movement in history has operated by casting itself as the greatest victims of oppression. In 1948, Strom Thurmond charged that anti-lynching bills were a “certain road to tyranny and oppression” and that the anti-segregation movement constituted “the most dangerous threat ever held over the heads of Americans.”

    At the same time, Thurmond vehemently denied that his campaign was built on “race prejudice.” He claimed his policies would benefit Negroes as well as whites.

    (I’ve obtained these quotes from a newspaper archive available through my library. I can’t find them on the web.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Davebo says:

    @Kylopod: Pretty sure you meant the segregation movement and not the anti segregation movement but your point is taken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Davebo says:

    @Kylopod: Pretty sure you meant the segregation movement and not the anti segregation movement but your point is taken.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Franklin says:

    @CSK: Wow. If one could somehow imagine this to be true (and I can’t), the only possible explanation would be: “God works in mysterious ways.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  19. Kylopod says:

    @Davebo: No, I actually meant anti-segregation. Read my comment again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  20. Barry says:

    @Mikey: “I am not nearly so optimistic as you are. I mean, if sympathizing with Nazis didn’t, what possibly could?”

    Something which gores their oxen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: “The problem isn’t that Trump lies; every politician lies. The problem is that guys like that guy who calls himself Marked Man (probably because he’s too cowardly to face us) and all those RINO turncoats in Congress are doing everything they can to thwart Trump at every turn. That and the liberals hating freedom and wanting to destroy the country and our patriotic heritage, of course.”

    On the other hand, they could stop saying stuff like the above. It’s worth a try, but I think I’ll stick with “you can’t fix stupid.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @CSK: You left out “Liberals in Midwest–especially Chicago.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: ” 54% of Trump voters says it’s Christians.”

    That’s undoubtedly because of all the camps that have been set up where Christians are being forced to bake cakes and pizzas for gay weddings. I understand that they’re forced to wear burkas and hajibs, too.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  24. DrDaveT says:

    At the risk of repeating myself, I think people are making a basic mistake by listening to the actual content of what Trump says. He isn’t actually making threats or claims in the usual sense. He is uttering sounds that cause people who like him to like him more. It is simply wrong to think that Trump cares about the semantic content of those utterances.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. MarkedMan says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Yeah, I’m assuming the majority will say that. But hope springs eternal and that explains my 25% dream.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. MarkedMan says:

    FWIW, I think Democrats are wrong both tactically and ethically in how they answer someone who says “I can’t get a decent job, my brother in law has been out of work for two years, and my nephew who was top of his class can’t get a scholarship to college while all the minorities get everything over us.” Rather than, “What are you kidding me! You get way more benefits just by having white skin!”, it would be much better to say (and to mean), “It is tough, but it’s tough for everyone whose parents can’t afford private schools and expensive tutors. It’s tough for everyone who talks differently than the elites. The programs have some skew towards race because of history, but remember, it is the Democrats who fight for programs for everyone who can’t afford those expensive things. The Republicans just say you are part of the 47% of takers and don’t deserve it.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  27. LaMont says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    This is precisely to your point and an uncomfortable truth.

    Great read;

    http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/18/us/ordinary-white-supremacists/index.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  28. LaMont says:

    @Liberal Capitalist:

    My mistake – didn’t realize you already located the article. Should have read through the thread a little longer. Glad you found it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @James Pearce:

    “We don’t want the wall if we have to pay for it.” It’s more like, “We want the wall…no matter what we gotta do to get it.”

    I think it’s more like “We want the wall and we want those east and west coast elitists to pay for it.” It’s the same dynamic with Medicaid: We want cuts to Medicaid because those people don’t deserve it.” It never occurs to them that Grandma will end up out in the streets when they can’t pay her assisted living facility.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  30. teve tory says:

    Trump seems to have found his floor after charlottesville: about 37%. When the inevitable recession happens I doubt it’ll go much lower than that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  31. Mikey says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It never occurs to them that Grandma will end up out in the streets when they can’t pay her assisted living facility.

    Which will be Obama’s fault anyway, as far as they’re concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. gVOR08 says:

    @teve tory:

    Trump seems to have found his floor after charlottesville: about 37%

    On it’s face I’d say you’re right, or maybe a point or two to drop. Self professed Republicans are, IIRC, about 35% of the population. Last time I looked Gallup Daily Tracking had Trump’s approval among Republicans at 79%. Assuming, as seems reasonable, that the famous Crazification Factor of 27% of the population are essentially all Republicans, they’d constitute 77% of Republlicans. That argues he’s very close to his floor.

    On the other hand, I don’t really think we’ve seen peak Trump. Every time it seems he’s gone as low as he can go, he’s gone lower.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  33. Kylopod says:

    @gVOR08:

    Self professed Republicans are, IIRC, about 35% of the population.

    But only a fraction of Republicans consist of Trump’s hardcore fan base–the ones who’ll stick by him if he shoots someone on 5th Avenue. There are many ordinary partisan Republicans who may have voted for him and who may vote for him again but who have no particular love for him. See the recent piece at 538 on the poll that examines the attitudes of enthusiastic Trump supporters versus non-enthusiastic ones.

    If there’s a recession, I think his poll numbers will decline and they could very well enter the 20s. Indeed, the fact that his numbers are as low as they are during a time of decent economic growth is a testament to how widely disliked he is.

    One of the biggest myths about Trump is that he’s somehow magically immune to all the normal laws of politics. It’s understandable people would think that, given the many things he’s survived that ought to have sunk him. But what people overlook is that he didn’t survive any of those things unscathed. For example, despite what some of the commenters here have repeatedly said, all the evidence suggests he lost votes as a result of the Access Hollywood fiasco.

    He won the election against most people’s expectations, but that doesn’t change the fact that he was right on the knife’s edge of defeat, and his victory absolutely depended on votes from many people who were holding their noses. Just tiny defections from key groups, or marginally more turnout from Democratic groups, and he would have lost the election. Unless he manages to gain new supporters, he cannot afford even a minuscule dropoff in his support.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  34. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @MarkedMan: I really appreciate your confidence and optimism. As for me, to paraphrase what Sarai said to the Angel about Abraham: my fountain has been dry for a long time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Mikey: Well, should Obama and the Democrats really have been promising that their Grandma would be cared for by Medicaid when they themselves knew that their neighbors were going to throw her out of the home first chance they got? Obama should have been smarter than that!

    (Well, maybe not; after all, he is just…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. al-Alameda says:

    This non-surprise , is brought to you by the Republican Party, the political party that is willing to leverage a federal government shutdown, or even a default on federal debt securities, in order to advance its agenda.

    They did this 3 times during the Obama years, and even now, with control of all three branches of the federal government, is apparently willing to do so again. Why? Simply, they’ve paid absolutely no political price for refusing to govern responsibly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0