Donald Trump is upping the stakes for both parties by threatening to shut down the government if he doesn’t get funding to secure the border, including a wall.
The government will at least partially run out of money on September 30. A shutdown so close to the election would have unknown consequences for both parties, as it looks like control of the House will come down to a few crucial races.
Trump has previously floated the possibility of a government shutdown over border security and immigration, and on Sunday he made his threat explicit, saying he would do so unless Congress funds his proposed wall, which he promised Mexico would pay for, and puts in place his preferred immigration policies.
In May, Trump suggested “closing up the country for a while” if he did not get his wall.
“They don’t want the wall,” Trump said. “But we’re going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while.”
Sunday’s shutdown threat from Trump also echoed a remark he made in February when he said “I’d love to see a shutdown” if the government did not agree to address immigration.
The last shutdown showdown was in March, when Trump also threatened to veto a gargantuan spending bill that didn’t contain any funding for a wall. He eventually signed the bill, saying: “I will never sign another bill like this again.”
The congressional GOP leadership wants to avoid a shutdown and is going to extraordinary lengths to prevent one:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in June that he was canceling much of the Senate’s August recess, saying the chamber needed the additional time to make progress on Trump’s nominees and pass appropriations bills. And with the House out on August recess, there’s not much time left before the deadline that both chambers will be in session.
Both Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and McConnell met with Trump last week to discuss funding the government.
Trump is serious this time. Will the GOP leadership follow his lead?
It’s a riverboat gamble for Trump to initiate a shutdown over his border wall. While border security scores high in polls, the wall is not as popular. A likely outcome is a short-term shutdown followed by a very short continuing resolution — perhaps lasting less than a month. Once Trump has established he means business, the real negotiations begin.
Would Trump be willing to address the DREAMers issue? He has said in the past that he wants to “do something” for the children of illegals brought to the U.S. but he has also said he wants Congress to address the issue separately. A deal that would include relief for at least some DREAMers would put pressure on the Democrats to sign on to a budget agreement that could include some funding for a wall.
Both parties will confidently predict that the other side will get blamed for a shutdown, but in truth, they’re all whistling past the graveyard. No one knows if either side would benefit from an interruption in government funding, leading to great uncertainty as we get closer to the September 30 deadline.