Congressional Democrats called President Trump’s bluff, and on Monday night, he folded.
The Trump administration decided to delay demanding Congress to include border wall funding as part of a spending bill, averting a showdown that threatened to shut down the government as soon as Friday.
Instead, Trump told a group of conservative journalists Monday that he’s planning to make his request in September, when his administration hopes to pass its first budget.
Over the past week, the Trump administration had pushed a much harder line, insisting that $1.5 billion must be dedicated to the border wall in this week’s spending bill. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told the Washington Post Sunday that “this is what the president ran on” and described the White House commitment to border wall funding as “strong.”
“My base definitely wants the border wall,” Trump told the Associated Press Friday. “You’ve been to many of the rallies? The thing they want more than anything is the wall.”
But at least eight Senate Democrats are needed to pass this week’s spending bill or the government will shut down Friday night, and Democrats have insisted they will not vote for a bill with border wall funding included. With Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House, many conservatives believe their party will bear the blame if the government shuts down.
The Trump administration scrambled to find a point of leverage over the past two weeks, even threatening to suspend $7 billion in insurance subsidies provided under Obamacare. But Democrats were confident that voters would hold Republicans responsible for taking away health care aid and Republicans seemed to agree, as they were unwilling to follow through on their threat.
Trump also may have been feeling resistance from within his own party. Despite claiming the Republican nomination last year with a promise to build a wall, many congressional Republicans are either opposed to or squeamish about the idea.
“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told the Washington Post. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”
No member of Congress along the border from either party publicly supports the wall either, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis Friday.
On to the next hand.
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