Trump, aides take a hard line on wall as shutdown threat looms
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and his top aides applied new pressure Sunday on lawmakers to include money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border in a must-pass government funding bill, raising the possibility of a federal government shutdown this week.
In a pair of tweets, Mr. Trump attacked Democrats for opposing the wall and insisted that Mexico would pay for it “at a later date,” despite his repeated campaign promises not including that qualifier. And top administration officials appeared on Sunday shows to press for money for the wall, including White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, who said Mr. Trump might refuse to sign a spending bill that does not include money for the wall.
Democrats said they vigorously oppose any money for the border wall in a new spending bill, setting the stage for a last-minute showdown as the White House and lawmakers scramble to pass a stopgap bill before funding expires Friday.
Mr. Trump’s position could also put him at odds with Republican congressional leaders, some of whom have voiced skepticism about including wall funding in the most immediate spending bill.
“The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday morning. In a subsequent tweet, he wrote: “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”
“We don’t know yet,” Mr. Mulvaney said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday” when asked if Mr. Trump will sign a bill that does not include funding for the border wall.
In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, also mentioned the border wall in the context of the president’s goals.
“[Mr. Trump will] do the right thing for sure, but I would suspect he will be insistent on the funding,” Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired Sunday.
Mr. Mulvaney has said the administration is willing to negotiate with Democrats — funding insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act in exchange for support for wall funding.
“ObamaCare is in serious trouble. The Dems need big money to keep it going — otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought,” Mr. Trump tweeted Sunday. But Democratic leaders say they are not open to that type of deal, and continued to take a hard stance against the wall.
The symbolic 100-day mark for the Trump administration is Saturday. That’s the same day the government could shut down without a budget deal.
Latest poll numbers
Mr. Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The president’s approval rating stands at 42 percent, the lowest recorded at this stage of a presidency dating to Dwight Eisenhower.
The Post-ABC poll finds 43 percent of Americans said they strongly disapprove of Mr. Trump’s performance. That’s also the worst by far of any president since George H.W. Bush by more than double.
Still, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among those who cast ballots for him stands at 94 percent. When asked whether they would vote for him again, 96 percent say they would, which is higher than the 85 percent of Hillary Clinton voters who say they would support her again.
‘Dreamers’ not targeted
Two members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet — Mr. Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — appeared to retreat Sunday from one of Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promises: to “immediately terminate” an Obama administration executive order meant to protect the legal status of children of undocumented immigrants.
Trump tax plan
The White House will offer “specific governing principles” for its tax plan this week along with indications of what new rates would be, but a complete proposal probably won’t be ready until June, Mr. Mulvaney said.