President Donald Trump has spent months spoiling for a government shutdown fight with Congress over his proposed wall along the Mexican border.
He might not let one of the worst hurricanes in recent American history change those plans.
At a joint press conference on Monday with the president of Finland, Trump would not say whether he would drop his threat to shut down the government without funding for the wall.
William Hoagland, a former GOP staff director for the Senate Budget Committee, told me Monday he expected the wall to take a back seat to funding the government given the natural disaster unfolding in Houston. And Trump did promise a swift, bipartisan response from Congress and the White House to the hurricane.
But despite being asked twice, Trump wouldn’t back away from his threat to shut down the government — a decision that would enormously complicate federal agencies’ ability to help Texas’s besieged cities.
Here’s the president’s exchange with Todd Gillman, Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News:
GILLMAN: I'm wondering what you can tell the people of Texas in terms of long-term recovery efforts. And, in particular, you have been feuding [with] key congressional leaders and also threatened a government shutdown, potentially next month, over border wall funding. Are these [fights] going to hamper, long term, the funding that will be needed long term? ...
TRUMP: No, Todd. I think you'll see very rapid action from Congress, certainly from the president, and you're going to get your funding. It's a terrible tragedy. Your governor has been absolutely outstanding in the job he's done.
... We expect to have requests on our desk fairly soon, and we think that Congress will feel very much the way I feel — in a very bipartisan way. That will be nice, but we think you're going to have what you need and it's going to go fast. ...
GILLMAN: Does this situation make you reconsider the possibility of a government shutdown next --?
TRUMP: I think it has nothing to do with it, really. This is separate — this is going to go very, very quickly. I've spoken to many of the people we're talking about, and everybody feels the same way I do.