President Donald Trump wants lawmakers in Congress in their latest budget due midnight Friday to approve a down payment on the Mexico border wall he promised his supporters during the 2016 campaign.
The New York Times reported the president may be willing to risk shutting down the federal government to get what he wants.
“We expect the priorities of the president to be reflective in the [spending bill],” Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “We expect a massive increase in military spending. We expect money for border security in this bill.”
Priebus added, “The president won [the election] overwhelmingly, and everyone understands the border wall was part of it.”
Democrats in Congress have refused to support the border wall in any way, calling it a “nonstarter,” according to the Times, adding that the pressure to avoid a government shutdown is on Republicans, since they have control of both the House and the Senate, as well as the White House.
“The burden to keep it open is on the Republicans,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told Chuck Todd during her Sunday Meet the Press interview. “The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says, ‘Well I promised a wall during my campaign,’ I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall onto the taxpayer.”
And so the table is set for yet another congressional budgetary standoff with a government shutdown deadline looming.
In a Fox Sunday interview with host Chris Wallace, Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney said the government shutdown is “not a tool” or a “desired end” the Trump administration wants to use, but added that the administration wants its priorities funded.
The Trump team previously has decided to use some Americans’ health insurance as a bargaining chip with Democrats, offering $1 in subsidy payments to insurers to lower consumer deductibles under the Affordable Care Act for every dollar Dems approve to pay for the border wall, according to the New York Times.
After failing to repeal Obamacare earlier this year, Trump has proposed letting the healthcare law fail by refusing to fund reform measures, threatening to do so once again via Twitter on Sunday.
Why the shutdown matters
Government shutdowns can cause payroll delays for federal employees and waste millions of federal government dollars to get institutions up and running again. Shutdowns also can damage the U.S. economy by undermining consumer confidence in American institutions and the government’s competency to pay its own bills.
In 2011, Congress’ partisan budgetary stare down forced S&P to downgrade the nation’s AAA top-tier credit rating for the first time ever. Today the U.S. credit rating remains at AA+, according to the Wall Street Journal.