President Trump threatened again to shut down the government this autumn if Congressional Democrats do not support more funding for a border wall with Mexico and tougher immigration policies. Trump insists that Congress must provide money for the border wall and enact new curbs on immigration.
"I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally, go to a system of Immigration based on MERIT!" the President wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
The threat comes two months before government funding expires on Sept. 30. It also stands as a rebuff to Republicans who have privately pleaded with the President to avoid triggering a shutdown before the midterm elections.
Experts say Republican leaders fear their party would be blamed for shutting down the government, costing them votes during a year in which the party risks losing control of the House and is defending a narrow majority of 51 out of 100 seats in the Senate.
But the Chairman of the House Republican Campaign Committee doesn't see a government shutdown as likely this autumn. Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers told reporters "I don’t think we’re going to shut down the government."
"I think we’re going to make sure we keep the government open, but we’re going to get better policies on immigration," Stivers said. "We need border security. We can’t have open borders that the opposing party is for." Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said he hoped any shutdown could be averted ahead of the November 6th midterm elections. "I don't think it’d be helpful," he said, "so let's try and avoid it. I certainly don't like playing shutdown politics," the Senator said.
Government funding is set to run out 37 days before November’s midterm elections. Republicans control both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, meaning voters might well place blame for any shutdown on the GOP. Even without the shutdown, current projections suggest Democrats have a strong chance of taking the House.
According to some experts, Trump has sometimes mused that a government shutdown might be politically beneficial for him, arguing it could rally his base. But Republican congressional leaders strongly disagree with that theory, and they’ve repeatedly warned Trump about the potential negative political consequences of shutting down the government shortly before the midterms.