Trump threatens to shut down government over border wall
BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — President Donald 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, a political showdown before the November 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 Kavanaugh by Oct. 1.
Trump faced words of caution from top Republicans, including Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, who leads the National Republican Congressional Committee, which co-ordinates campaign efforts for House Republican 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’ This Week.
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, told CBS News’ Face the Nation that he supports the president’s effort to pass conservative immigration policies but disagreed with his brinkmanship.
“I don’t like playing shutdown politics. I don’t think it’d be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it,” Johnson said.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Democrats did not feel compelled to respond to Trump’s threat.
“Democrats wants to work together in a bipartisan way when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform,” Luján said on ABC News, adding that “Democrats are standing strong when it comes to a comprehensive immigration reform conversation with the American people that is fair, that is tough.”
Trump’s declaration on Twitter surprised some lawmakers who have been eager to avoid a bruising 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 U.S.-Mexico border. Trump also has been advocating a number of changes to immigration laws.