Government shutdown: Most Americans blame Trump for border crisis, poll finds

Fifty-one per cent hold president responsible, compared to 32 per cent who blame Democrats

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 09 January 2019 08:51 GMT
Donald Trump says workers not getting paid because of government shutdown will have to 'make adjustments'

More than half of Americans blame Donald Trump for the ongoing government shutdown, a poll has found.

Fifty-one per cent of adults polled by Reuters and Ipsos thought the president was responsible – up four percentage points from a prior poll in late December – after he demanded funding for a border wall.

Just under one-third, or 32 per cent, blamed Democrats in congress, while a further seven per cent blamed House Republicans, pollsters found.

Before the government partially shut down last month Mr Trump said he would be “proud” to let funding run out, telling Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer that “I will take the mantle ... I’m not going to blame you for it”.

Mr Schumer’s Democrats do not want to fund a border wall, one of Mr Trump’s key campaign pledges. The president has refused to approve any spending agreement that could re-open the government unless it includes a budget for the wall; he is seeking some $5.6bn (£4.4bn).

Days after meeting with Mr Schumer and his counterpart in the House, Nancy Pelosi, however, Mr Trump changed tack and sought to blame his opponents.

He has also claimed that Democrats are holding back on funding the wall, and extending the shutdown affecting about 800,000 government workers, because they are playing politics ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

On Tuesday night Mr Trump used a rare televised address to invite Democrats to the White House for negotiations, adding that it was “immoral for politicians to do nothing” in the face of a “humanitarian crisis” at the US-Mexico border.

Mr Schumer accused the president of using the prime-time slot to “manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration”.

Hoping to demonstrate flexibility during his nearly 10-minute speech, Mr Trump said of the barrier he wanted to construct: “At the request of the Democrats it will be a steel barrier and not a concrete wall.”

But Democrats have opposed not just the construction materials to be used, but the extent of a project that could end up costing more than $24bn (£19bn) in the long term.

They also argue that a mix of fencing, which already has been built in many areas of the border, and higher-tech tools would be cheaper and more effective in securing the border.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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