President Donald Trump on Tuesday revived his threat of a government shutdown over the issues of immigration and border security, creating yet another headache for Republican leaders on Capitol Hill who have been marching forward with plans to avert a funding crisis before the November midterms.
“I don’t care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown,” Trump said in a tweet Tuesday afternoon.
“Border Security is National Security, and National Security is the long-term viability of our Country,” he added. “A Government Shutdown is a very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!”
The threat came one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told The Washington Post he was confident that Congress could avoid a shutdown in the fall.
McConnell and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., have laid out a strategy to fund more than half of federal agencies by Sept. 30, punting some of the more contentious fights - such as money for Trump’s long-sought U.S.-Mexico border wall - to after the elections.
But the president’s conflicting signals - encouraging in private, hard-line in public - call into question whether the GOP leaders’ plan will succeed.
On Capitol Hill, McConnell and other Senate Republican leaders told reporters Tuesday afternoon that they are sticking to their plan to approve nine of the dozen spending bills on Congress’s plate by the end of August, putting them on track to have 90 percent of the government funded by the end of the fiscal year.
McConnell steered clear of criticizing Trump, saying that while he supports what the president is trying to achieve on the border wall, the Senate is working to resolve the issue through regular order.
“We’re trying to go through a normal appropriations process that prevents a big event at the end of the fiscal year, which has become all too common around here,” McConnell said. He added: “Hopefully we don’t get to that position at the end of the fiscal year.”
Trump’s latest shutdown threat comes after a tweet earlier Tuesday in which he seized on news reports of a higher murder rate in Mexico than previously reported to bolster his demands for border wall funding and other immigration measures.
“One of the reasons we need Great Border Security is that Mexico’s murder rate in 2017 increased by 27% to 31,174 people killed, a record!” Trump said. “The Democrats want Open Borders. I want Maximum Border Security and respect for ICE and our great Law Enforcement Professionals! @FoxNews”
His tweet referenced a report Monday by the Mexican National Institute of Statistics and Geography, which revised a previous homicide count of 25,339 for 2017. With the higher figure, the rate of homicides in Mexico was the highest since at least 1990.
The Washington Post’s John Wagner contributed to this report.