President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to shut down the government this fall if congressional Democrats do not support more funding for a border wall with Mexico and tougher immigration policies.
“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!” the president wrote on Twitter.
Story Continued Below
Government funding is set to run out 37 days before November’s midterm elections. Republicans control both houses of Congress and the presidency, meaning voters might well place blame for any shutdown on the GOP. Even without the shutdown, current projections suggest Democrats have a strong chance of flipping the House.
In private conversations with friends and advisers, Trump has sometimes mused that a government shutdown might be politically beneficial for him, arguing it could rally his base. But Republican congressional leaders strongly disagree with that theory, and they’ve repeatedly warned Trump about the potential negative political consequences of shuttering the government shortly before the midterms.
When asked about the president’s statement, Rep. Steve Stivers, the leader of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, said he does not think a shutdown will occur.
“I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government,” the Ohio Republican said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I think we’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration.”
Trump and Democrats have been locked in a back-and-forth over immigration since the president decided to end an Obama-era program for undocumented immigrants in September 2017. At one time, it appeared that Trump and Democrats would reach a deal to codify the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, in exchange for funding for the border wall and some additional changes to immigration laws. But chances for such an agreement fizzled.
Since then, Democrats have harangued Trump over his administration’s policy to separate migrant families at the border and progressive activists have pushed liberal lawmakers to agree to abolish the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee, slammed Trump’s threat as another musing from “President Shutdown.”
“President Shutdown is at it again — how many times will he threaten to shut down the government — putting Virginia’s and our nation’s economy at risk,” Kaine wrote on Twitter, “as well as the livelihoods of thousands of federal workers — before he realizes this is not a game?”
Andrew Restuccia contributed to this report.