WASHINGTON — The week of U.S. President Donald Trump’s 100th day in the Oval Office could culminate in a government shutdown if Congress can’t reach a deal by midnight Friday April 28 to keep federal operations running.
While Republican negotiators were putting forward a confident face Monday that they’ll meet the Friday deadline, a major sticking point remains whether the Trump administration will ultimately insist on funding construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It’s a campaign promise Trump wants to see fulfilled. But its inclusion in a piece of must-pass legislation could shatter support for the underlying funding bill with virtually every Democrat, and puts the president at odds with most of his own party.
Republicans want to support their president. Few of them, however, have ever been fully behind Trump’s proposal to pay for construction of a multi-billion dollar border wall and later make Mexico cover the costs.
If including that provision in a federal spending bill would threaten passage, it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where Republican lawmakers would fight tooth and nail to include it to please Trump while risking a government shutdown.
“Border walls and fences are part of an overall plan” for homeland security and immigration enforcement, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday. “But there will never be a 2,200-mile wall built. Period.
“I think (Trump) is probably well aware we are probably not going to build a 2,200-mile wall,” Graham continued. “I don’t think you’re ever going to get appropriations for that.”
There are also Republicans who aren’t enthusiastic about funding the border wall at all, unless it were paid for up front and through significant cost-saving mechanisms.
“I think there’s still question marks about ‘wait a minute, this is a guy that said Mexicans are going to pay for it and now it’s going on a spending bill that is borne by the U.S. taxpayer,'” U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., cautioned on CNN over the weekend. “So I think there will be debate on it.”
Plenty of Republicans are still poised to blame Democrats if government funding goes to the brink over the border wall debate.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said he expects Congress to pass an extension of “at least a week” to avoid a shutdown Friday. That’s a common practice for lawmakers up against a deadline and at an impasse.
But as for whether he supports funding Trump’s border wall vision, Scott gave himself room to maneuver.
“I think we should look at whatever we need to do to fund our national security and fund it,” Scott said. “And if our president tells us it’s creating impediments to our border, we should do it. That doesn’t seem controversial to me.”
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