Congress fac­ing post­elec­tion fight over bor­der wall

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - News - BY LISA MASCARO AND MATTHEW DALY

Congress is head­ing to­ward a post­elec­tion show­down over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s wall along the U.S.-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, RWis., 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.

“Democrats want to abol­ish Amer­ica’s bor­ders and al­low drugs and gangs to pour into our coun­try,” Trump said with­out ev­i­dence Wed­nes­day dur­ing a swing through Erie, Pa.

“Right af­ter the elec­tion we’re do­ing some­thing very strong on the wall,” Trump added Thurs­day in an in­ter­view on “Fox & Friends.”

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 aWhite 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.

The dead­line sets the stage for a new round of bud­get brawls.

“We in­tend on hav­ing a full-fledged dis­cus­sion about how to com­plete this mis­sion of se­cur­ing our bor­der and we will have a big fight about it,” Ryan said in a speech at the Na­tional Press Club.

Asked if he made a com­mit­ment to Trump for a shut­down over wall funds, Ryan said blame would fall to Democrats, who are in the mi­nor­ity in Congress and largely op­pose in­creased fund­ing for the wall.

House Repub­li­cans ap­proved $5 bil­lion for Trump’s wall in a key com­mit­tee, al­though it comes with­out Demo­cratic sup­port. A bi­par­ti­san bill be­ing con­sid­ered in the Se­nate al­lo­cates $1.6 bil­lion for the wall, far short of the $5 bil­lion the White House is seek­ing as part of a $25 bil­lion, five-year plan to com­plete the project.

EVAN VUCCI AP Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is promis­ing at ral­lies that GOP can­di­dates will bring tougher bor­der se­cu­rity. Above, Trump speaks in March dur­ing a re­view of wall pro­to­types.

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