All summer, congressional GOP leaders have touted their success passing spending bills before the Sept. 30 funding deadline, a rare feat in this partisan age that they’ve even highlighted on the campaign trail.
But President Donald Trump just doesn’t care. He wants his wall, and he wants it yesterday.
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Trump on Thursday morning once again publicized his eagerness for a shutdown fight, seeming to question GOP leaders’ strategy to delay the showdown until after the consequential midterms. Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said the president agrees with their plan to postpone the fight with Democrats and pass as many bipartisan bills as possible before Election Day. But Trump called those very carefully crafted legislative packages “ridiculous.”
“I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms?” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!
Trump’s comments come just over a week before the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30, when the government runs out of money. GOP leaders next week plan to send those “ridiculous” appropriations bills, including a package funding the departments of Defense, Labor and Health and Human Services, to the Oval Office.
But Trump’s comments once again suggest that he may not sign them.
The new infusion of drama comes as Senate Republicans struggle over what to do with their Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. A California-based psychologist has accused Kavanaugh of assaulting her when they were both in high school. But the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, doesn’t want to testify before the Senate at a scheduled Monday hearing without an FBI investigation first.
If Ford chooses not to show, Senate Republicans will spend all of next week grappling with how to vote on Kavanaugh without a full understanding of what happened.
A shutdown threat would only fuel that fire.
GOP leaders have promised the president that the border wall fight will come after the midterms. They’re working on a “continuing resolution” that would extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security until Dec. 7. That gears up the chambers to have the showdown over wall money then.
But some in the White House fear that GOP leaders won’t be able to win the fight if they kick the can into the holiday season. Some in the White House also feel the House is already lost to the Democrats and would prefer to have the shutdown before the election.
GOP leaders are adamant that a pre-election shutdown fight would be the final nail in the coffin for the House GOP majority. Voters will blame Republicans, they say, and their swing-district members will suffer for it at the polls.
“The fight over the wall … delay that until after the election,” said one GOP senator who asked not to be named. “I don’t think there’s any secret about that.”
GOP leaders are hoping to make it difficult for Trump to reject their appropriations bills and shutdown any agencies. They plan to attach the temporary DHS funding extension — which does not include his wall money — to a package that includes new money for the Pentagon.
Trump, the thinking goes, won’t want to veto a bill that boosts the military, one of his central campaign promises.
Burgess Everett contributed to this report.