August 1, 2018
On July 30, during a joint press conference with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, President Donald Trump reiterated his tweeted threat of the day before to shut down the federal government at the end of September, if Congress does not deliver on Republican demands to crack down on immigration by enforcing security on the border with Mexico and to construct his long-promised wall, The New York Times reported.
“If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” Trump told the media. “We’re the laughingstock of the world.”
Indeed, if the POTUS was concerned about potentially throwing his party into disarray with his threats prior to the midterm elections, he did not show it, the Times said.
However, his comments on immigration did not find a welcome reception on Capitol Hill, where Republicans staring toward November’s elections were quick to distance themselves. The party risks losing control of one or both chambers, and its leaders have made it evident that they see no upside to a chaotic government shutdown in the weeks before voters cast their ballots.
“Obviously up here, we want to keep the government up and functioning,” Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota told the Times. “I’m not sure where the president is coming from.”
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate, chalked the comments up to a negotiating technique —however ill-advised it may be.
“He knows the game,” Hatch commented to the news outlet. “But we don’t want to do that again. Nobody wants that.”
Republican leaders in both chambers expect to pass the majority of the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the government operating before September 30, the end of the fiscal year. Between those bills and a short-term spending measure to bridge the gap, they believe they can push off any potential fights—including over border wall funding—until after the midterms.
That, at least, was the plan Republican leaders pitched last week to Trump at the White House. They left thinking they had reached a mutual understanding, the Times said.
“I was a little surprised that he brought it back up again,” Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas told the news outlet “But I know it’s really a burr under his saddle.”
A survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research back in April found that 58% of Americans oppose new spending for the border wall, while just 28% support it. Along party lines, 86% of Democrats oppose new spending for the wall, as do 57% of Independents.
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