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Trump Threatens Infrastructure Legislation Over Border Wall Demand

Issue has Republican and Democratic buy-in, but president claims he might kill it

Barriers at the southern border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)
Barriers at the southern border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

President Donald Trump on Thursday threatened to kill any infrastructure legislation lawmakers might pass next year unless Democrats give him billions for his proposed southern border wall.

Notably, Trump did not threaten to veto a stopgap spending measure headed to his desk later Thursday that was made necessary by his demand for $5 billion for the barrier project this fiscal year. Lawmakers could not find a way to meet that demand — or part of it — ahead of a Friday night deadline, so they decided to put off the border wall fight until February.

But he did make clear he will continue to push for the wall funding when the next Congress convenes after a holiday break that will start for lawmakers Thursday and him on Friday.

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“The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country. What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS!” he wrote in a tweet.

The president on Tuesday night began referring to the proposed wall as “steel slats” in a change in rhetoric. Democratic lawmakers say they support the kind of fencing that already is along parts of the U.S.-Mexico border but oppose the kind of concrete and steel wall Trump campaigned on in 2016; the president and his top homeland security advisers have, at times, talked about fencing in certain areas.

But a top House Democrat on Wednesday made clear that no matter what Trump calls the proposed barrier, that caucus — which takes control of the chamber in a few weeks — will not provide the necessary monies.

“The wall won’t be resolved no matter what we do because we aren’t going to do the wall,” House Minority Whip Steny B. Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters.

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Infrastructure is one of the few issues that has broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and Trump made upgrading the country’s roads, airports, bridges, tunnels and seaports a top 2016 campaign promise. Analysts and lawmakers often question why he and his team did not try to pass an infrastructure package in early 2017 to establish a solid working relationship with Congress – especially Democrats.

His Twitter threat came a day after the Senate sent the House a criminal justice overhaul package that some of his allies said Wednesday suggested next year might provide some actual bipartisan legislation. (The House is expected to easily pass it later Thursday and send it to Trump’s desk for his signature.)

“Maybe that’s a sign that 2019 might be okay,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Wednesday of the Senate’s bipartisan vote on that bill. But the president, with one tweet, cast doubt on that the next morning.

Katherine Tully-McManus and Kellie Mejdrich contributed to this report.Watch: Pelosi on Trump Shutdown, Border Wall, Mexico and Press Coverage

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