Bannon predicts Trump will shut government down over wall funds
Ousted White House strategist Steve Bannon predicts another government shutdown before the midterm elections over President Trump’s insistence that Congress fund his long-promised border wall.
“I believe the government will actually shut down in the run-up to the election,” Bannon told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria in an interview that aired Friday night.
“The wall is not just totemic,” Bannon said. “The wall is absolutely central to his program.”
Although Trump has claimed several times that the wall is already being built, Congress has declined to allocate funding for it. So far, only existing fence has been repaired. In addition, several prototypes of a possible wall have been built.
In January, CNN reported that the Trump administration had asked for $33 billion to cover the costs of securing the border, with $18 billion going toward the wall, according to Customs and Border Protection documents obtained by CNN that were sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Congress is required to appropriate the funds needed to build the wall, but CNN reported in March that Trump had also privately suggested that the wall be built with funds from the military budget.
In March, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending plan that did not include any funds for the wall. The president has been pressing for Congress to revisit the issue this fall. Bannon said he thinks the president will step in if lawmakers again refuse.
“I believe that what he’s going to do is, as we come up on September 30, if that appropriations bill does not include spending to fully build his wall — not some $1.6 billion for prototypes, I mean to build the southern wall — I believe he will shut down the government,” Bannon said.
His comments came in the interview with “Fareed Zakaria GPS” that will be rebroadcast on Sunday.
Trump’s demand for a wall was the centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. In his Trump Tower announcement of a White House bid, Trump hit the wall issue hard:
“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively,” Trump said. “I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”
Until last week, Trump had largely sidestepped public statements on his demand that Mexico pick up the tab for the wall after his insistence on the issue led to the cancellation of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s planned visit to Washington in early 2017.
Trump mentioned it again at a rally last month in Nashville, Tennessee, prompting another quick response from the Mexican president: “NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. “
Bannon was fired from his White House post as chief strategist last year following his candid remarks to author Michael Wolff for the book “Fire and Fury.”
Former Trump political strategist Steve Bannon was interviewed on the CNN show “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”