November 29, 2018
President Donald Trump is throwing his considerable weight around again: He is calling for no less than $5 billion in funding to build the border wall. He refuses to negotiate—and has gone on record saying that he is willing to instigate a partial government shutdown—as the clock ticks down to Congress’s December 7 deadline for the FY2019 budget bill.
What’s more, the president repeatedly has threatened to close the entire southern border, if he is not satisfied, tweeting on November 26, “…We will close the Border permanently if need be. Congress, fund the WALL!”
The House and the Senate still have to pass seven spending bills to fund multiple government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department, Vox reported on November 28. But Trump has renewed a push for border wall funding, throwing a major wrench into these negotiations. What’s more, the president has said, if he does not get the money, the Democrats are to blame.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had previously been optimistic about closing the year with no drama, but a veto threat over wall funding could make that tougher to do. Because these are spending bills that require 60 votes to pass, Democrats have a fair amount of leverage.
And they don’t appear to be backing down easily, Vox said.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) signaled Tuesday, the news outlet said, that he would support no more than the already allocated $1.6 billion for funding the wall in the Senate version of spending legislation.
According to the Vox report, Democrats also are standing firm over issues related to protecting the Mueller investigation and addressing the citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire—matters they would much prefer to see tackled in the bill.
Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) has characterized wall funding as the “linchpin” of current talks, telling reporters the $5 billion figure is a “red line” for Trump.
If Congress is unable to reach an agreement that gets closer to this figure, Trump said that he could—and would—veto whatever bill comes across his desk.