Donald Trump may be willing to shut down the government over his wall with Mexico

The New York businessman made it a central part of his election campaign

Andrew Buncombe
Monday 24 April 2017 20:32 BST
Donald Trump said unless he makes the border wall with Mexico 'super-duper,' it will cost less than $10 billion, far lower than most estimates
Donald Trump said unless he makes the border wall with Mexico 'super-duper,' it will cost less than $10 billion, far lower than most estimates (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Donald Trump has demanded congress provide funds to build his controversial border wall with Mexico - apparently willing to threaten Democrats even if he risks a government shutdown.

The president is embarking on a flurry of activity as he looks to ratchet up achievements ahead the anniversary of his first 100 days in office. He will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, meet the president of Argentina, outline a new tax reform plan and visit a National Rifle Association event in Atlanta.

Mr Trump is also seeking to persuade Democrats to fund the border wall, while avoiding a looming shutdown of the federal government.

“The wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If ... the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be,” he said on Twitter.

The president, whose approval rating are the lowest of any commander-in-chief for more than 70 years, is desperate to score a big legislative victory in the first three months, considered to be the salad days of any administration.

But his plan to repeal and replace the President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, failed to gather full party support and imploded last month. It never even came to a vote.

Jeff Sessions: Congress will pay for the wall

If no deal is agreed on spending, parts of the federal government will shut down at 12.01am on Saturday. Mr Trump is demanding that congress include funds for the construction of the wall, which he made a key theme of his 2016 presidential campaign and which he says will stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States.

The funding bill will need 60 votes to clear the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats, meaning at least some Democrats will have to get behind the bill, Reuters said.

Aides stressed over the weekend that funding for a border wall and a vote on an effort to repeal and replace Obamacare were immediate priorities. They asserted that both still could be accomplished in the coming week.

“I don’t think anyone foresees or expects or would want a shutdown,” budget director Mick Mulvaney told Fox News.

Mr Trump has claimed Mexico will repay the United States for the wall if Congress funds it first. But the Mexican government is adamant it will not finance a wall and Mr Trump has not laid out a plan to compel Mexico to pay. Department of Homeland Security internal estimates have placed the total cost of a border barrier at about $21.6bn.

One senior Republican congressional aide told the Associated Press said that if not enough progress is made by Thursday, Congress would likely have to try to push forward a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government operating while negotiations continue. Leading Democrats have said they would support such a measure only if there was progress in the private talks.

“But Democrats want the narrative that they dealt him a loss on the wall,” the aide said.

It is unclear whether Mr Trump would sign a deal that did not include money for the wall.

On Sunday, he appeared to dangle the prospect of funding some elements of Obamacare in exchange for Democrats’ support in the spending talks. He tweeted that the 2010 healthcare restructuring, which was Mr Obama's signature domestic achievement and which enabled millions more Americans to secure healthcare coverage, could fail sooner than thought without an infusion.

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