WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on threats to shut down the federal government if Congress fails to pass funding to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Trump, who heavily campaigned on a promise to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. if elected, said building a wall is not a matter of racism, but of national security.
“We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall,” Trump said to a crowd of cheering supporters at a Phoenix rally on Tuesday.
“Build the wall! Build the wall,” the crowd chanted in response.
As a Sept. 30 deadline approaches to continue funding the government, the president on Thursday reiterated his vow that, should Congress failed to pass a funding resolution, the government would shut down.
“Anybody who’s surprised by that has not been paying attention for over two years,” Trump administration aide Kellyanne Conway said told Fox News on Thursday. “So he’s telling Congress he’s building the wall, he expects the funding, and it’s up to them to work collaboratively. We hope they do.”
On Twitter, the president attacked GOP leaders, claiming they had ignored his instructions on debt ceiling legislation, which he referred to as a “mess.”
“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They…..didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!” the president wrote of House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R)-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R)-Ky.
Last May, Trump’s 2018 budget proposal for border security asked for $2.6 billion, of which $1.6 billion of it would go to begin construction for a southern border wall. However, according to estimates, construction costs for the wall could reach as high as $15 billion (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-wall-exclusive-idUSKBN15O2ZN).
In addition to building the wall, Trump campaigned heavily on the promise of making Mexico pay for it. Thus far, the Mexican government has refused to do so. As a result, the president said he will force Mexico to reimburse the U.S. for the border wall through a series of economic and trade sanctions to recoup the cost. Until then, the president says funding of the wall through the use of U.S. tax dollars is a priority and must be approved by Congress.
Democrats were quick to lash out against the president over his threats to shut down the government on Thursday, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi leading a strong opposition to his demands.
“Last night, President Trump yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake: the President said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall,” Pelosi said in a released statement (http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/82317/).
“The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. With a Republican House, Senate and Administration, Republicans have absolutely no excuses for threatening America’s families with a destructive and pointless government shutdown,” the statement continued.
“President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans. Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”
Rep. Don Beyer (D) – Va., echoed Pelosi’s comments on Twitter.
“Trump threatens to shut down the government unless we vote to put taxpayers on the hook for a wall he promised Mexico would pay for. Nope,” Beyer tweeted.
For his part, Speaker Ryan seemed unconcerned with the President’s comments when asked about them during a stop in Oregon.
“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said.
When asked whether he thinks the president will follow through on his threats Ryan said he thinks Trump is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.”