President Donald Trump late Monday appeared to back down from initial demands for the funding of a proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.
Trump and top White House officials were gearing up for a fight for border wall funding in the new continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded and avoid a shutdown by the end of the week.
But during a meeting with conservative media members at the White House on Monday, Trump said he was willing to budge on his demands to fund the wall in the spending bill.
According media members in attendance, Trump said he would be open to shifting the timeline for funding of the border wall back to September — when another spending bill will likely be needed — if it is not included in this week’s legislation.
The White House hoped to include the funding in the bill to show progress on campaign promises during the president’s first 100 days in office. The border wall was a seminal part of the Trump’s campaign platform.
Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he had not shifted his position on the border wall.
“Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc,” he wrote.
Democrats balked at the idea from the start. They called funding for the border wall a “poison pill” that would risk a government shutdown, and both Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi provided a full-court press of an attack of the idea.
After the news from Trump’s meeting Monday, Schumer said Trump taking wall funding off the table would help move forward the process of passing a spending bill.
“It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations. Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues,” Schumer’s said in a statement.
Some Republicans even warned that a border wall could sink a spending bill, given the divisions within the Republican conference.
“If you can make this about better border security, the president’s in good shape,” Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham said. “If he wants a 2,200-mile wall, I don’t think he’s going to get the votes to support that.
A shutdown would be politically historic. The federal government has never shut sown with one party in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House.
Instead of demanding funding for an actual wall along the border, White House officials have floated the idea that Trump may accept some form of increased border security, such as more border agents or electronic monitoring.
Chief of staff Reince Priebus told NBC’s “Meet The Press” that Trump may accept “enough as far as flexibility for the border wall and border security” in the spending bill.
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