Trump Again Threatening Government Shutdown Over Immigration, Border Wall
President Trump is suggesting he may force a government shutdown over his immigration policies just a month before the midterm elections.
President Trump is once again threatening to force a government shutdown if he doesn’t get what he wants on immigration, including funding for the border wall that he said that Mexico would pay for:
WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans, already facing a difficult election landscape, confronted a prospect on Sunday they had worked feverishly to avoid: a threat by President Trump to shut down the government over funding for a border wall.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”
Last week, Republican leaders thought they had reached a deal with Mr. Trump to delay a confrontation on funding for the wall until after the November midterm elections, according to a person familiar with their discussion.
But Mr. Trump’s shutdown threat, in which he also demanded several pieces of a comprehensive immigration overhaul that is stalled in Congress, has opened the door to a politically bruising spending fight as the fiscal year ends in September.
With the election coming just weeks later, the party can ill afford a disruption that voters — already disgusted by Washington dysfunction — may hold the president accountable for.
A shutdown would also distract from Senate Republicans’ main business in September: their push to confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
“We’re going to have a challenging midterm anyway, and I don’t see how putting the attention on shutting down the government when you control the government is going to help you,” Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, said in an interview.
Representative Steve Stivers of Ohio, the chairman of the committee charged with electing Republicans to the House, insisted that a shutdown was unlikely.
“I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government,” Mr. Stivers said on the ABC News program “This Week.” ”You know, I think we’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration.”
Democrats and Republicans have in fact made unusual progress on the 12 appropriations measures necessary to keep the government operating. Current funding for the government expires Sept. 30.
More from The Washington Post, which also notes that Trump’s call for a shutdown over immigration policy is not being received well by Republicans in the House or the Senate:
President Trump threatened Sunday to shut down the federal government this fall if Congress does not pass sweeping changes to immigration laws, including appropriating more public money to build his long-promised border wall.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” Trump tweeted. “Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”
Trump’s shutdown warning — which he has made before — escalates the stakes ahead of a Sept. 30 government funding deadline, raising the possibility of a political showdown before the Nov. 6 midterm elections that Republican congressional leaders had hoped to avoid. A funding fight also could prove a distraction from Republican efforts in the Senate to confirm Trump Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh by Oct. 1.
Trump faced immediate words of caution from top Republicans, including Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio), who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, which coordinates campaign efforts for GOP House candidates.
“I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government. You know, I think we’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration,” Stivers said on ABC News’s “This Week.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that he supports the president’s effort to pass conservative immigration policies but disagreed with his brinkmanship.
Trump’s declaration on Twitter surprised some lawmakers who have been eager to avoid a bruising and politically charged funding fight and highlighted his intense desire to make progress on signature agenda items that have stalled.
The president has not received from Congress as much funding as he has requested for his proposed wall along the Mexican border. Trump also has been advocating for a number of changes to immigration laws, including ending the visa lottery program as well as “catch and release” — the practice of releasing from detention immigrants caught entering the country illegally if they agree to court hearings.
Trump met Wednesday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and discussed the upcoming spending measure. The president signaled in the meeting that he was on board with McConnell and Ryan’s strategy to fund the government smoothly through “minibuses,” or smaller packages of spending bills that had been moving through the House and Senate, according to a person familiar with the meeting.
But in recent days, Trump has also spoken with several outside political allies who have urged him to strike a tougher line on the border wall as a means of pressuring Democrats and rallying his core voters in November, according to two people briefed on those discussions.
Trump has sought to make immigration a core campaign theme heading into the midterms. He has defended his administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, arguing that some parents who have been separated from their children under this policy are criminals.
Here are Trump’s tweets on immigration and a potential shutdown:
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 29, 2018
We must have Border Security, get rid of Chain, Lottery, Catch & Release Sanctuary Cities – go to Merit based Immigration. Protect ICE and Law Enforcement and, of course, keep building, but much faster, THE WALL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2018
This isn’t the first time that the President has threatened a government shutdown over his immigration policy, and if it happened it would not be the first time during his Presidency that the government shutdown over immigration-related issues. About a year ago at this time, as Congress was headed back to Washington to deal with passing a spending measure before the then-current Fiscal Year expired, the President threatened to force a government shutdown if the spending bill didn’t include funding for his border wall. While he ultimately did not pull the trigger on that threat, it remained hanging out there and would play a significant role in events earlier this year that ultimately did lead to a brief government shutdown.
That occurred early in the year, of course, when the Senate tried to put together an agreement that would both deal with outstanding budget issues and resolve the issues surrounding the beneficiaries of President Obama’s Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They were prompted to take this course of action largely thanks to a bipartisan meeting with Members of Congress and the Senate in which he essentially told them to go back and come up with a proposal to fix the DACA issue and stated that he would sign whatever they came up with. Within a matter of days, Senators Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin had come up with just such a proposal that appeared to have broad bipartisan support. When they went to the White House to present that plan to the President, though, they found their proposal being rebuffed. This is the same meeting at which the President made his now infamous comments about immigrants from “shithole” countries. It was at that point, that things in the Senate started going downhill and led to the shutdown that ended after a weekend. Prior to the shutdown, the President had met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and came away thinking he had a deal that would have included both protection for DACA beneficiaries and some funding the for the border wall. Within hours after the meeting, though, the White House had rescinded the deal, and that led to the aforementioned shutdown. As Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put it over the weekend, negotiating with this President is like negotiating with Jello. Even when he makes a clear and unequivocal statement on what he might accept in legislation, it’s become inevitable that the White House or Trump himself will walk it back. After the shutdown was over, as Congress sought to put together a budget deal, Trump again threatened a shutdown in February, but those threats were ultimately ignored.
As noted above, most Republicans are not exactly embracing the idea of a government shutdown in September, and most especially not one that is focused on the President’s policies on immigration. For one thing, any such shutdown would come within a month prior to the midterm elections at a time when voters in many states will already be eligible to vote early or vote via absentee, and it’s highly likely that a shutdown would have a negative impact on the fortunes of the Republican Party in the fall, which is already looking like an uphill battle for the GOP. Adding immigration into the mix would only seem to make things worse given the fact that polling has clearly indicated that the American public is largely opposed to the Republican Party’s current orthodoxy on immigration. Throw into that mix the significant public opposition to the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance and family separation policies, both of which continue to be a source of problems on the southern border, and it seems as though it would be hard to underestimate the damage that a shutdown, especially a prolonged one, would do to the GOP on the eve of the midterms.
In the end, I doubt that Republicans on Capitol Hill will listen to the President’s call for a shutdown over immigration. Not only do they remember the negative public reaction from the shutdown earlier this year, but they also remember the even deeper public reaction to the shutdown in 2013 that lasted nearly two weeks. Some conservatives will no doubt point out that the GOP didn’t pay much of a political price for that shutdown in the 2014 elections, but the main reason for that is that the shutdown was more than a year in the past when those elections took place. This time, it would be a matter of weeks at best. Given that, I would expect Republicans on Capitol Hill to resist the President’s call. What they will do if he actually followed through on this threat and vetoed a budget bill that didn’t satisfy his requirements on immigration is another question entirely.