In an interview with the Daily Caller this week, President Trump downplayed the idea of shutting down the government ahead of the midterm elections: “I don’t like the idea of shutdowns,” he said. “I don’t see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right now.”
But in a meeting with Republicans at the White House on Wednesday, Trump said that he was not going to take a shutdown off the table, if that’s what it took to force Capitol Hill to cough up the money for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. While he praised Congress for making “tremendous progress” on a spending extension that would take the federal government past the September 30 deadline, he said he may not sign the legislation if it doesn’t include enough money for the wall. Asked by a reporter if he was willing to stick by that demand even with a looming shutdown, the president shrugged.
“If it happens, it happens,” he said. “If it’s about border security, I’m willing to do anything. We have to protect our borders.”
Senior Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have said that they are under the impression that the president would be willing to sign the spending bills, regardless of the border issue.
“We are still in favor of the wall,” McConnell said on Fox News after the White House meeting. “We still want to get funding for the wall. But we think the best time to have that discussion is after the election.”
It’s sound politics.
But here’s the problem: We’ve been at this juncture before – more than a few times. And the answer we keep getting from Republicans in Congress is, Don’t worry, keep the faith, we’ll deal with the wall next time.
Well, “next time” has come and gone several times since the first time you guys said that, and we still don’t have any new wall funding that counts for squat. Gee, if we didn’t know you folks better, we might think you were just shining us – and Trump – on so that you never actually have to put your money where your mouth is and protect this country.
Maybe McConnell and his fellow Republicans on The Hill are right. Maybe now is not the right time to do battle on this issue.
The question is: When WILL it be that time?