McConnell cool on Trump’s latest shutdown talk
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Friday said he hopes lawmakers can avoid a shutdown showdown after President Trump a day earlier again raised the possibility of shutting down the government if Congress doesn’t provide enough money for his desired U.S.-Mexico border wall and other immigration priorities.
“Most of the Republicans I know, including myself, support the president’s effort to fund the wall. As to whether or not it requires a government shutdown to do that, I’m still hopeful that won’t happen,” Mr. McConnell said in an interview on WHAS radio in Kentucky.
“I think it generally is not a good thing for the country to have a government shutdown,” Mr. McConnell said. “We’re still in negotiations with the Democrats, and there is some wall funding not as much as the president would like that’s been approved in bills both in the House and, shortly, in the Senate.”
At a rally in Pennsylvania on Thursday, Mr. Trump again said he wants to take a stand on funding for the wall, which was one of his key priorities during the 2016 campaign.
“We’re going to start to get very nasty over the wall,” the president said. “We’re either getting it, or we’re closing down government. We need border security.”
The $1.3 trillion “omnibus” spending bill that funds the government through September includes $1.6 billion for the wall.
Senate appropriators included the same $1.6 billion amount for 65 miles of fencing in their 2019 bill that funds the Department of Homeland Security. The House included $5 billion for the wall and associated border security efforts in its 2019 DHS funding bill.
The homeland security spending bills have cleared committee in both the House and the Senate, but congressional leaders have signaled they might not have enough time to combine them and pass a final bill before the next funding deadline at the end of September.
That means they could try to pass a stopgap bill that holds DHS funding at the current levels to give them more time to negotiate.
Despite the $5 billion in wall funding, the House DHS bill also includes several policy riders that seek to limit Mr. Trump’s deportation powers and roll back stricter standards for asylum-seekers.
Lawmakers have been steadily approving individual 2019 spending bills in hopes of getting as many of the 12 annual funding bills passed by the end of September as possible, which would lessen the blow of any potential shutdown though Mr. Trump always has his veto pen at the ready if those aren’t to his liking, either.