Congress heads toward post-election ‘wall’ fight
Trump takes victory lap
WASHINGTON Oct 13, (AP): Congress is heading toward a postelection showdown over President Donald Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border, as GOP leaders signal they’re willing to engage in hardball tactics that could spark a partial government shutdown and the president revs up midterm crowds for the wall, a centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and a top White House priority.
Trump is promising voters at rallies across the country that Republicans will bring tougher border security in campaign speeches that echo those that propelled him to office two years ago. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised a “big fight” over the border wall money and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not ruled out a mini-shutdown as GOP leaders look to help Trump “get what he’s looking for” on the wall.
Republicans steered clear of shutdown politics ahead of the Nov 6 midterm election. They know voters have soured on government dysfunction, hold low views of Congress and are unlikely to reward Republicans - as the party in control of Congress and the White House - if post offices, national parks and other services are shuttered.
GOP leaders struck a deal with Democrats earlier this year to fund most of the government into next year. They presented their case to Trump in a White House meeting in September – complete with photos of the border wall under construction. Trump, who previously warned he would not sign another big budget bill into law without his border funds, quietly signed the legislation before the start of the new budget year Oct 1.
Left undone, however, is the portion of the government that funds the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the border, and a few other agencies. They’re now running on stopgap funds set to expire Dec 7.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump took a victory lap in Ohio on Friday, touting a “really historic week for America” that began with the installation of his second Supreme Court justice and concluded with the release of an American detained in Turkey.
Jocular and boastful, Trump barnstormed - in what was a barn on a rural fairgrounds - for Ohio’s gubernatorial and congressional candidates, but, as he often does, spent much of the hour-plus speech touting his own track record. He zeroed in on the past week, which many White House aides believe was one of the most successful of his presidency.
Trump drew loud cheers from the crowd for securing the release of pastor Andrew Brunson, swaggering that “we bring a lot of people back.” After Brunson was sentenced to three years in a Turkish prison on terror charges, Turkey’s government quickly freed him to return to the US.
Trump touted at length the trials of Brett Kavanaugh, who was seated on the Supreme Court this week after a contentious confirmation process that featured multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denied, and bitter partisan battles. But Trump argued that the bruising process, which ignited a soul-searching national conversation about sexual assault, was “a tremendous service” for his party.
“We are more energized as Republicans than ever before,” Trump told the crowd bundled against the chill on the outskirts of the Cincinnati region. “Did he get treated badly or unfairly or what? Horrible.”
Returning to a recent incendiary talking point, Trump deemed the Democrats who opposed Kavanaugh “a mob,” but said they would not stop him from potentially, he guessed, appointing up to four more justices to the court throughout his time in office - for a total of six, or two-thirds of the court’s nine justices.
“Republicans believe in the rule of law, not the rule of the mob,” Trump said. “These are bad people. We can’t let his happen to our country.”