Fearmongering about immigration was one of President Donald Trump’s signature themes during a midterm cycle where Republicans ultimately suffered a stinging rebuke in the House.
But even after the president’s party lost control of one chamber of Congress, the White House isn’t ruling out the possibility that Trump will shut down the government next month if he doesn’t get enough money for a border wall.
When Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy question about the possibility of a shutdown over a border wall during an interview on Friday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump “is keeping all options open.”
“The one thing he has made clear for three and a half years now, and it helped him win the presidency indeed, is that we are a sovereign nation in need of physical borders, and I don’t know if there has been anything he has been more explicit and consistent on in the last three and a half years.”
“Congress needs to act ... $1.6 billion is a modest down payment for the security of this nation,” she added.
On Fox News, @KellyannePolls says Trump is leaving open possibility of shutting down government next month if he doesn't get $1.6 billion for his border wall.— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 16, 2018
"The president is keeping all options open... $1.6 billion is a modest down payment for the security of this nation." pic.twitter.com/K2VLOEiFs3
Despite campaigning in 2016 on the promise that Mexico would pay for the border wall, Trump has made getting American taxpayers to fund it one of his highest priorities since taking office. Trump argues that the wall is needed for national security, but Border Patrol agents say less expensive technological upgrades would work just as well.
A physical barrier along the entire southern border is estimated to cost in the range of $20 billion. Earlier this year, Trump refused a bipartisan immigration deal early that included about $3 billion for border security. The spending bill Trump ended up signing allotted $1.6 billion, and Democrats have signaled they’re open to making a similar appropriation for the next budget cycle.
It’s unclear what dollar total would be satisfactory to Trump. He’s said he wants the full $5 billion passed by House Republicans, but during speeches he’s indicated a third installment of $1.6 billion would suffice. Speaking with the Daily Caller on Wednesday, Trump said he “may very well be willing to shut down the government” unless he receives a satisfactory amount of wall funding, but didn’t cite a specific number.
Beyond the possibility of a shutdown, Conway indicated Trump doesn’t really have specific priorities for the upcoming lame-duck sessions of Congress. She mentioned a bunch of things that could in theory happen — including passage of Trump’s fake middle-class tax cut plan — but wasn’t able to identify specific priorities.
“Congress has to act,” she said.
Asked about Trump's priorities for upcoming lame-duck session, Conway mentions Trump's fake middle-class tax cuts but says, "Congress has to act."— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) November 16, 2018
"Alright. So the middle-class tax cuts, you say it's all on the table now," @AinsleyEarhardt replies. pic.twitter.com/jJjPRoY54C