Donald Trump threatens to shut down US government unless Democrats vote to build his wall
House Republicans released a spending bill this month that provides US$5 billion next year to build Trump’s promised wall
US President Donald Trump said on Sunday he’d be willing to shut down the government if Democrats refuse to vote for changes he seeks to the US immigration system, including building a wall along the US-Mexico border.
“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 said.
Trump campaigned on the promise of building a border wall to deter illegal immigration. Congress has given him some funding but not as much as he has requested. Trump also wants changes to legal immigration, including scrapping a visa lottery programme. In addition, he wants to end the practice of releasing immigrants caught entering the country illegally on the condition that they show up for court hearings.
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
Trump has also demanded that the US shift to an immigration system that is based more on merit and less on family ties.
Democrats and some Republicans have objected to some of the changes Trump seeks.
The federal budget year ends September 30, and lawmakers will spend much of August in their states campaigning for re-election in November.
Trump would be taking a political risk if he does, in fact, allow most government functions to grind to a halt on October 1 – the first day of the new budget year – roughly a month before the November 6 elections, when Republican control of both chambers of Congress is at stake.
House Republicans released a spending bill this month that provides US$5 billion next year to build Trump’s wall, a major boost.
Trump returned to the idea of shutting down the government over the border wall after meeting at the White House last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican from Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, to discuss the fall legislative agenda.
McConnell, asked about a shutdown during a Kentucky radio interview, said it was not going to happen. He did acknowledge, however, that the border funding issue was unlikely to be resolved before the midterm elections.
Ryan said after the meeting: “The president’s willing to be patient to make sure that we get what we need so that we can get that done.” He added that money for the wall was “not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”
Some Republican lawmakers doubted the government would be forced to shut down.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he did not think shutting down the government just before the elections would be helpful “so let’s try and avoid it.”
Democrats have long opposed financing Trump’s wall but lack the votes by themselves to block House approval of that amount. But they have the strength to derail legislation in the closely divided Senate.
Without naming a figure, Trump said in April that he would “have no choice” but to force a government shutdown this fall if he does not get the border security money he wants.
The $5 billion is well above the $1.6 billion in the Senate version of the bill, which would finance the Homeland Security Department. The higher amount matches what Trump has privately sought in conversations with Republican lawmakers, according to a Republican Party congressional aide who wasn’t authorised to publicly talk about private discussions and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Two leading Democrats – Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and California’s Lucille Roybal-Allard – called the US$5 billion a waste that “only further enables this administration’s obsession with cruel attacks on immigrants.”
Separately Sunday, Trump tweeted that there are “consequences when people cross our Border illegally” and claimed that many who do so are “using children for their own sinister purposes.”
Trump’s tweet came several days after the government said more than 1,800 children separated at the US-Mexico border under Trump’s “zero-tolerance” immigration policy have been reunited with parents and sponsors. A federal judge had ordered the reunions to be completed by last Thursday but hundreds of children remain separated. The administration says some of their parents have criminal histories.
“Please understand, there are consequences when people cross our Border illegally, whether they have children or not – and many are just using children for their own sinister purposes,” Trump said.
He also said Congress must fix “the DUMBEST & WORST immigration laws anywhere in the world!” and urged voters to “Vote ‘R’” in November.