Trump threatens possible government shutdown if Congress won’t fund border wall

At a raucous campaign rally in Arizona, President Donald Trump demanded that Congress fund his request for money to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying that if lawmakers won’t go along with his plan, then it could mean a federal government shutdown showdown with Congress this fall, as Mr. Trump argued that it’s imperative for lawmakers to further tighten border controls.

“Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me, if we have to close down the government, we’re building that wall,” Mr. Trump said to loud cheers in a Phoenix rally.

No direct votes have been held in either the House or Senate on funding for the wall, as GOP leaders have been worried the plan to fund an initial $1.6 billion in extra border wall money might not be able to gather a majority in either the House or Senate.

“Believe me, one way or the other, we’re going to get that wall,” the President added, making clear his desire to gain approval for the money.

Unlike a year ago during the campaign for President, Mr. Trump made no mention of his familiar vow to make Mexico pay for the border wall, instead focusing his ire on Democrats in the Congress.

“Democrats in Congress who oppose a border wall and stay in the way of border security – you are putting all of America’s safety at risk, you’re doing that,” the President said.

The showdown over money for the border wall could come as soon as the end of September, when the Congress is supposed to finish work on the dozen spending bills that fund the operations of the federal government.

But as usual – and this has been true for both parties – those bills are nowhere near being finished by October 1, so lawmakers will have to approve a temporary budget plan to keep the government running.

It’s not clear that Mr. Trump – or Republican leaders in the Congress would have even a simple majority of votes in favor of a plan that includes money for the border wall.

Mr. Trump’s wide-ranging speech in Arizona touched on a number of other issues:

+ Almost the first 20 minutes was devoted to a defense of his remarks after recent violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the President repeatedly blamed the news media for twisting his words on how he views groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

+ The President said he may simply terminate the NAFTA trade deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, saying there may not be a way to renegotiate it to the satisfaction of the United States.

+ The President all but said he would give a pardon to former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court, for ignoring a judicial order to stop making immigration sweeps that violated the Fourth Amendment.

+ Mr. Trump spent more time lambasting the news media than making the case for his agenda in Congress, as he called for action by lawmakers on health care, tax reform and infrastructure. While health care legislation remains in limbo, there are still no GOP bills moving forward on either taxes or money to build new roads and bridges.

+ Without mentioning them by name, Mr. Trump called out both of Arizona’s U.S. Senators – two Republicans who have crossed swords with the President at times, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) doomed a Senate health care bill, as Mr. Trump labeled Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) as “weak” on border and immigration matters.

President Trump goes to Nevada on Wednesday; he will make a speech in Reno at a national gathering of the American Legion, and then sign a new bill to further reforms in the VA.

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