If President Trump wants to shut down the federal government over funding for his southern border wall, Democrats seem happy to oblige him.
Four days before a deadline for Congress to pass a spending bill, the big question is just how much Trump wants to have the fight his administration has begun to wage over the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been negotiating for weeks on legislation to avert a shutdown on April 29 and fund the government for the remaining five months of the fiscal year. Officials in both parties have characterized the talks positively: Neither side wants a shutdown, and they have largely reached agreement on the critical issues of how much money to appropriate to each department and agency.
“The appropriators have basically worked out everything. The real questions now are really above the appropriators’ level,” Representative Tom Cole, a senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, told me late last week.
The wall has remained the chief sticking point—not so much between Republicans and Democrats as between Congress and the White House. Democrats had made clear from the outset they would not green light funds for a project they consider to be an immoral boondoggle and one which, as they are quick to remind the public, Trump promised would be paid for by Mexico. And although the president had requested a $1.4 billion downpayment in the current budget talks, Republicans were content to put off the fight until lawmakers debate spending levels for 2018. The GOP’s reluctance to insist on wall funding was also due to divisions within their party, as most of the lawmakers representing the border have withheld their support for the project.