The US President has restated his position that he would "totally be willing" to close down the government if the Democrats don't come to the the party and agree to the funding by 7 December.
The Democrats have only committed to approving a total of US$1.6 billion for the wall.
Trump has said the US$5 billion figure only covers the physical construction of the wall and the number for his proposed border security program would be much higher.
President Trump reiterates his demand that Congress appropriate $5 billion for a border wall, saying he would "totally be willing" to shut down the government if he doesn't get the funding https://t.co/xutIPWAh4y pic.twitter.com/4yk6AYl4a6
— CNN (@CNN) November 28, 2018
Trump on illegal immigration: “politically speaking, that issue is a total winner”
Speaking to Politico, Trump dismissed concerns that a prolonged fight over funding for the wall could diminish his political capital.
“I don’t do anything … just for political gain,” Trump said. “But I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border, they look at the rush to the police, they look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, three very brave Border Patrol folks — I think that it’s a tremendous issue, but much more importantly, is really needed. So we have to have border security.”
Trump said he was “firm” on the figure of US$5 billion, but a standoff on the issue would trigger a partial government shutdown. If Congress does not pass seven appropriation bills by 7 December, funding to fundamental government agencies including the Justice Department, State Department and Department of Homeland Security will cut out, sparking a partial government shutdown.
Donald Trump says he would "totally be willing" to shut down the U.S. government unless Congress authorized $5 billion to fund his border wall. https://t.co/yMyWE8FDQw
— CBC News (@CBCNews) November 28, 2018
Both sides vowing to dig on over funding for the wall
The President had also reportedly told Republican colleagues he would not budge on the US$5 billion figure on 27 November.
“We need Democrat votes to have a wall,” Trump told The Washington Post in an interview on 27 November. “If we don’t get it, will I get it done another way? I might get it done another way. There are other potential ways that I can do it. You saw what we did with the military, just coming in with the barbed wire and the fencing, and various other things.”
On 27 November, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said the Democrats had not changed their position on funding for the wall.
“The $1.6 billion for border security negotiated by Democrats and Republicans is our position. We believe that is the right way to go,” Schumer said. “If there’s any shutdown, it’s on President Trump’s back.”
The same day, he tweeted that the agreed upon US$1.6 figure was “for border security, NOT a concrete wall or increases in detention beds or ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents.”
The deployment orders for active-duty troops stationed on the U.S.-Mexico border had been scheduled to end on Dec. 15.
Now, Pentagon officials say the troops will remain on the border into January. https://t.co/ADYcLbcyyt
— NPR Politics (@nprpolitics) November 28, 2018
Military presence at the US-Mexico border may extend into next year
Politico pointed out that Trump has engaged in similar brinksmanship before, only to quietly back down. He has also previously threatened partial government shutdowns over the specific issue of funding for the wall before.
Next year, Trump will face a Democrat-controlled House for the first time in his presidency.
Meanwhile, a government source told reporters that the Pentagon may keep active-duty US troops stationed on the southwestern border to confront caravan migrants into January.
The military’s presence at the border is currently scheduled to end on 15 December.
More than 3,000 migrants have made it to Tijuana and will likely remain there for months as they await possible legal entrance into the US.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis visited the troops stationed on the border earlier this week, but could not answer a question on whether the military would end up having to take down all the concertina wire they have been installing.
Header image credit: Gage Skidmore