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Threat of government shutdown makes Republicans anxious

July 31, 2018

Republicans anxious about keeping control of Congress think it’s a bad idea, but President Donald Trump still says he’s willing to close the government over border security issues, including money he wants to build a promised U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT!”

Trump returned to the idea after a meeting at the White House last week with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., where they were said to have agreed on the way forward on government funding for the budget year that starts Oct. 1.

McConnell told a radio interviewer last week that a shutdown so close to the Nov. 6 midterm elections won’t happen. McConnell acknowledged, however, that the border funding issue in particular was unlikely to be resolved before the balloting.

Ryan said on Capitol Hill after the meeting: “The president’s willing to be patient to make sure that we get what we need so that we can get that done.” He added that money for the wall was “not a question of if, it’s a question of when.”

The White House did not immediately respond to request for comment on what may have changed since the meeting.

Trump has pledged to campaign aggressively, starting after Labor Day, to help Republicans retain control of the House and Senate, but GOP lawmakers don’t appear to be rallying to his side on this not-so-new idea.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that it would be unhelpful to shut down the government just before elections “so let’s try and avoid it.”

Trump campaigned on the promise of building a wall to deter illegal immigration and making Mexico pay for it. Mexico has refused.

Trump has gotten some wall money from Congress, and likely will get more, though the total is short of the $25 billion he has requested.

He also wants changes to legal immigration, including scrapping a visa lottery program. In addition, Trump wants to end the practice of releasing immigrants caught entering the country illegally on the condition that they show up for court hearings, along with shifting the U.S. immigration system to one based more on individual merit and less on family ties. Democrats and some Republicans have objected to those proposals.

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