President Donald Trump raised the odds of a government shutdown that lawmakers from both parties thought they had averted, calling a spending package headed his way to keep the federal lights on “ridiculous.”
“I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms?” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
“Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!” he added.
I want to know, where is the money for Border Security and the WALL in this ridiculous Spending Bill, and where will it come from after the Midterms? Dems are obstructing Law Enforcement and Border Security. REPUBLICANS MUST FINALLY GET TOUGH!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 20, 2018
Lawmakers had secured bipartisan support for a measure that would extend federal funding until early December, punting a fight over border wall funding until after November’s midterm elections. GOP leaders had indicated Trump was on board with their plan, but the Thursday tweet cast doubt on their assumption.
Watch: Trump’s Border Wall Shutdown Threats Continue, But Still Not Convincing Many Hill Republicans
White House aides in recent days had been unable to say whether Trump would sign the spending package, which was passed this week by the Senate and expected on the House floor next week. Government funding expires at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 30.
The president might simply be appealing to his conservative base with the shutdown-threatening tweet. He brought the government to the brink of a shutdown in March with a seemingly out-of-the-blue veto threat on a Friday morning with the funding clock ticking toward zero. By that afternoon, he signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package after lawmakers had left town — then joined them by flying away from the White House to his New Jersey golf resort.
Congressional leaders huddled with the president earlier in the month to discuss the fall legislative agenda. Speaker Paul D. Ryan emerged from that session believing they had convinced Trump to sign the coming package and put off a border wall battle until after the congressional elections.
“We have a good understanding,” the Wisconsin Republican said Sept. 6, a day after his last meeting with Trump. “I’m confident our understanding will stick.”
But Trump never endorsed the plan publicly. Nor did any of his top aides.
In fact, he has since threatened to shut down the federal government this fall unless Democrats give in to his border security demands, including giving him billions more for his proposed southern border wall. He has dropped the threat at campaign rallies and on Twitter, even as GOP leaders and rank-and-file members of the spending committees assured reporters the government would not again shut down in a few weeks.
Should Democrats continue denying Trump his border barrier and other demands and the president make good on his high-stakes threat, it would be the third funding lapse of his tenure. It also would shutter the government just weeks before voters will decide which party controls the House and Senate — and the Trump-GOP agenda — come January.
“I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!” he tweeted in late July.
More recently, Trump has waffled.
On Sept. 6, he told Fox News that he “most likely” would not trigger a pre-Election Day shutdown because “I don’t want to do anything that will hurt us, or potentially hurt us.”
But by the next morning, he told reporters on Air Force One the opposite.
“I would do it because I think it’s a great political issue,” he said, noting conservative opinion-makers like Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Sean Hannity say a a shutdown is “the greatest thing you can do.”