Trump just 'dramatically raised the specter' of a government shutdown over the wall -- and he'd likely 'get the blame'

  • President Trump threatened a government shutdown over funding for his proposed wall along the Mexico-US border.
  • The plan would face opposition from Democrats and some Republicans.
  • It could also be politically costly for Trump to go all out to get funding for a physical border wall.

President Donald Trump wants his wall, and he’s willing to shut down the government to get it.

During a wild campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday night, Trump made an explicit threat to shut down the federal government to secure funding for his proposed wall along the US-Mexico border.

“If we have to close down that government, we are going to build that wall,” Trump said to applause.

Politico’s Josh Dawsey reported that this isn’t an empty threat, either. Trump has told advisers over the past week that he wants “real money” to begin construction on the physical wall he repeatedly promised during the campaign.

Congress must pass a funding bill by the end of September to avoid a shutdown. With only 12 working days to do so, throwing in a fight over the wall isn’t going to make the arduous task any easier. Any sort of funding for a physical structure along the border in a funding bill would likely be a non-starter with bipartisan opposition.

Democrats, who would likely universally oppose such a proposal, can block any funding bill in the Senate if they wish. In a statement Wednesday, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer made it clear that would be the case.

“If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won’t accomplish anything,” Schumer said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed her Senate counterpart’s sentiments.

“President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans,” Pelosi said. “Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”

As Schumer’s and Pelosi’s statements mentioned, some Republicans would also likely bristle at the inclusion of the wall debate in the government funding bill. Even members of Trump’s own administration are sceptical about such a fight, according to Politico’s Dawsey. According to the report, many members of the administration want Trump to stop talking about the wall and focus on the upcoming tax reform battle.

“You have barely anyone here saying, ‘Wall, wall, we have to get the wall at all costs,'” one White House official told Politico.

Issac Boltansky, a political analyst at the research firm Compass Point, said in a note to clients Wednesday that Trump’s fiery rhetoric on the wall increases the chance of a shutdown come October.

“President Trump’s apparent commitment to securing funds for the border wall as part of this funding agreement dramatically raises the spectre of a shutdown in October,” he wrote.

Boltansky said, though, that Trump could secure some symbolic funding for the wall if he gives in on funding for some Democratic priorities.

“I think we could ultimately see a deal where Democrats allow for some level of symbolic border wall funding in exchange for a number of policy concessions,” Boltansky said in an email. “It is unclear what will be in a final package, but I think it is fair to assume that both the ACA’s cost sharing reduction payments and the [Budget Control Act’s] budget caps will be central in the talks.”

Trump has expressed at times a willingness to shut down the government. He suggested after the previous budget deal in May that the “country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September.” Other Trump administration officials, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, have also suggested a shutdown could be necessary.

The chaos of a shutdown would likely come with consequences for Trump and Republicans.

For one thing, it would be historic. The last time the government shut down while one party controlled Congress and the White House was in 1979 under Jimmy Carter. That shutdown, however, was mild, as no federal employees were sent on furlough.

And any sort of uncertainty like a shutdown would likely be a negative for financial markets worried about government dysfunction.

“Democrats will not agree to any budget that funds a wall, and if Trump wants to shut down the government — good luck with that, he’ll get the blame,” Valliere said.

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