Trump's push to fund wall may be delayed to avoid government shutdown
President Donald Trump insisted on Monday in a pair of Twitter posts that the border wall with Mexico, the financing of which is an obstacle blocking a budget agreement to avoid a partial shutdown of the US government, is a "very important tool" for preventing the entry of illegal drugs into this country.
Donald Trump has indicated he is willing to delay his demand for funding of his Mexican border wall to avoid a shutdown of the federal government.
In a private meeting with conservative media outlets, the President said he might wait until Republicans begin drafting the budget blueprint for the fiscal year that starts on 1 October to seek government funds for building a wall along the US-Mexico border, the White House confirmed.
The Trump Administration had insisted that funding for the wall must be part of a spending bill Congress is set to consider before Friday, when the government runs out of money. Congressional leaders in both parties had warned the White House that such a demand would unify Democrats in opposition at a moment when it’s likely Republicans will need their votes to clear Friday’s deadline, as reported in Time.
As late as Monday afternoon the President was still pushing for border funding, but aides started to peddle ideas that perhaps Trump could still claim a win if there were boosted funding for border security—think drones and border guards, not bricks and barbed wire—as a way to save face.
However, Trump said he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed, as reported in the Washington Post.
At issue is whether the spending measure will explicitly allocate funds toward building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a campaign promise that was a rallying cry for Trump’s base and one on which he is eager to demonstrate progress by Saturday, his 100th day in office.
Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3 and a half years to construct.
The construction of the border wall faces strong opposition from Democrats.
The Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, with a key role providing Democratic votes to pass the legislation, welcomed Trump’s reported shift on the wall.
“It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations,” Schumer said late on Monday.
“Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues.”
The House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, said: “The president’s comments this evening are welcome news given the bipartisan opposition to the wall, and the obstacle it has been to the continuing bipartisan negotiations in the appropriations committees.”
Despite the White House's conciliatory tone, Trump used Twitter to deliver the urgency of the border wall as a way to solve US illegal drug problem:
“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” he wrote in a morning post.
In another message several hours later, Trump wrote that if “the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall.”