Trump: Shut­down af­ter elec­tion if wall not funded

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Front Page - By Damian Paletta, Erica Werner and Josh Dawsey The Washington Post

The top two Repub­li­cans in Congress ar­rived at the White House last week armed with props aimed at flat­ter­ing and ca­jol­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump out of shut­ting down the gov­ern­ment at the end of this month.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., showed the pres­i­dent glossy pho­tos of a wall be­ing built along the U.S.Mex­ico bor­der.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R-Ky., brought an ar­ti­cle from the Washington Ex­am­iner that

de­scribed Trump as bril­liantly han­dling the cur­rent bud­get process, por­tray­ing the GOP as uni­fied and break­ing through years of dys­func­tion.

Their mes­sage, ac­cord­ing to two peo­ple briefed on the meet­ing: The bud­get process is go­ing smoothly, the wall is al­ready be­ing built, and there’s no need to shut down the gov­ern­ment.

In­stead, they sought to per­suade Trump to put off a fight for more bor­der-wall money un­til af­ter the Novem­ber midterm elec­tions, promis­ing to try then to get him what he wants, ac­cord­ing to those, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they weren’t au­tho­rized to re­veal de­tails of the pri­vate dis­cus­sion.

The vis­ual aids were a sub­tle but deft at­tempt to win over a pres­i­dent known to pre­fer vis­ual imagery to wonky typed hand­outs, and ea­ger to ab­sorb flat­tery at a time when the White House is en­veloped in chaos. But it could take weeks be­fore it’s clear whether their ef­fort was suc­cess­ful.

The calculated in­ter­ven­tion came amid an­other week in which Trump showed he was wrestling in­ter­nally with whether to fol­low GOP lead­ers’ advice or trust his own, im­pul­sive in­stincts and the de­mands of a restive Repub­li­can base.

One of Trump’s cen­tral cam­paign prom­ises was the con­struc­tion of a wall along the Mex­ico bor­der, and he has so far been stymied by Congress in ob­tain­ing the fund­ing he says is nec­es­sary.

The cur­rent con­struc­tion is re­plac­ing ex­ist­ing walls and bar­ri­ers that have ex­isted for years.

Trump orig­i­nally promised that Mex­ico would pay for the wall, but re­cently he has sought U.S. tax­payer money for the project.

He wants $5 bil­lion for 2019 — some­thing few law­mak­ers think is ob­tain­able. Trump on Fri­day said the money could come from Congress or he could try to re­di­rect it from the Pen­tagon’s bud­get, adding fur­ther con­fu­sion to the plan­ning.

The un­cer­tainty has

clouded the bud­get process on Capi­tol Hill as law­mak­ers work des­per­ately to fi­nal­ize spend­ing bills to pay for gov­ern­ment op­er­a­tions be­fore fund­ing runs out Sept. 30 — un­able to know whether their ef­forts will ul­ti­mately be thwarted by Trump’s veto.

“You know, he does what he does,” said Rep. Den­nis Ross, R-Fla.“We have to take con­trol of our­selves and we have to put on the ta­ble for the pres­i­dent to sign an ap­pro­pri­a­tions pack­age, and let him ac­count for his de­ci­sion.”

Since March 1, Trump has said he would hap­pily lead the gov­ern­ment into a par­tial shut­down later this year if law­mak­ers don’t ap­prove the money he wants to build the wall.

Ear­lier this year, Trump grew fu­ri­ous on sev­eral early morn­ings when he saw news cov­er­age of a gi­ant spend­ing bill, which was be­ing heav­ily crit­i­cized by con­ser­va­tives for be­ing bloated and stuffed with lib­eral pri­or­i­ties.

“They are crush­ing me,” Trump told aides about what the con­ser­va­tives on Fox News were say­ing about him.

So Marc Short, who at the time was the White House’s di­rec­tor of leg­isla­tive af­fairs, brought Trump a list of what the spend­ing pack­age did for Trump’s agenda, ac­cord­ing to ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials.

Trump then calmed down upon learn­ing more of what was in the bill, but told aides he wanted peo­ple to be back­ing him up on tele­vi­sion.

Short re­peat­edly told law­mak­ers that they needed to get peo­ple on TV if they

wanted Trump to sup­port it — and that it was key to his sign­ing the bill.

Lately, Trump has made clear to top aides that he is on the fence about whether to back an­other bill. On a re­cent flight to Penn­syl­va­nia, Trump polled ad­vis­ers about whether he should shut down the gov­ern­ment.

Kellyanne Con­way, among oth­ers, has pushed against it, White House of­fi­cials said.

Com­pli­cat­ing the process is the un­cer­tain out­come of the midterm elec­tions. If Democrats seize con­trol of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, it could be­come even more dif­fi­cult for Trump to se­cure the money.

But GOP lead­ers are con­vinced they don’t have the votes to ap­pro­pri­ate the money now, even though they con­trol both cham­bers of Congress. They are try­ing to avoid a messy fight just ahead of midterms.

Trump seemed to agree with them on Tues­day, telling the Daily Caller that he didn’t want a shut­down.

But by Wed­nes­day, right be­fore the meet­ing with Ryan and McCon­nell and as they sat by his side, Trump was rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity.

“If it hap­pens, it hap­pens,” he said.

Af­ter Ryan and McCon­nell pre­sented Trump with the dif­fer­ent im­ages, how­ever, the pres­i­dent changed his tune again.

On Thurs­day, in a Fox News in­ter­view, Trump said a fight over the wall could wait.

He said “most likely I will not” call for a shut­down, “but we’re go­ing to do it im­me­di­ately af­ter the elec­tion.”

EVAN VUCCI/AP

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., showed the pres­i­dent glossy pho­tos of a wall be­ing built along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

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