WASHINGTON, U.S. – The U.S. President Donald Trump woke up on Sunday morning and delivered one of his most explicit threats to the Congress.
Setting the tone for the upcoming appropriations deadline, Trump clarified that he wouldn’t hesitate to shut down the federal government over border security and immigration.
Trump called on the Congress to enact the sweeping immigration reform, which includes his controversial campaign promise of building a Mexico border wall.
In a series of early morning tweets, Trump lambasted Congress over immigration reform and and wrote, “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 system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!”
In his 2016 Presidential campaigning, Trump made building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border a signature issue and even repeatedly promised that Mexico would pay for it.
He has repeatedly reassured supporters that he would secure funds for the proposed border wall, even unabashedly floating the possibility of a government shutdown to see his demands being met.
In February this year, Trump first revealed how far he was willing to go to deal with the contentious issue of immigration.
He said he would continue his relentless pursuit if the government did not agree to address immigration, pointing out, “I’d love to see a shutdown.”
Ultimately, in March, Congress passed a $1.3 trillion Omnibus Spending Bill, which would fund the federal government for the remainder of the 2018 budget year, through the end of September.
The bill was aimed at significantly boosting military spending and increasing funding for border security, infrastructure and efforts to fight the opioid epidemic.
However, the bill included only a minor down payment of $1.6 billion on Trump’s crucial campaign promise of building the wall.
Further, the money would actually fund fencing structures similar to ones that already exist.
Dissatisfied at his demands not being met – four hours before the bill was to be signed, Trump tweeted that he was mulling a veto, sending lawmakers scrambling as the move would make a government shutdown imminent.
Trump sent the White House and Capitol Hill in a frenzy after tweeting, “I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.”
Then, hours later, Trump signed the bill, but not before making his views apparent about the “ridiculous” spending bill passed by Congress despite his reservations.
He argued that he signed the bill only because it provides much-needed funding for the military, including a pay increase for troops and new equipment.
At the time he declared, “I say to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again. There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill.”
Months after revealing his dissatisfaction – in May, Trump repeated his suggesting, pointing out that he would not hesitate in “closing up the country for a while” if he did not get his wall.
He declared, “They don't want the wall. But we're going to get the wall, even if we have to think about closing up the country for a while.”
However, his threat on Sunday wasn’t insinuated like earlier this year – it was explicit and indisputable.
Trump said that if Democrats refused to back his immigration reform and fund the border wall he would willingly shut down the federal government.
With the September deadline looming, in June, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he was canceling much of the Senate's August recess.
He said that the chamber needed the additional time to make progress on Trump's nominees and pass appropriations bills.
The House is out on August recess – and both chambers will be in session but will have very less time before the deadline arrives.
Last week, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and McConnell reportedly met with Trump to discuss funding the government.
If Trump delivers on his threat at the September deadline – it would mark the third lapse in appropriations this year.
The federal government shutdown in January as Democrats battled with the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on protections for “Dreamers.”
A brief shutdown was also witnessed when Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky blocked a spending vote.
On their part, Democratic leaders have embraced legalization of ‘Dreamers’ as a rallying cry on immigration reform and have been galvanized by the administration's family separation policy.
Over the last few months, Trump has defended the controversial practice of undocumented families being separated at the border, despite a massive outcry over the separations.
Heart wrenching stories of families being torn apart and the reality about the conditions in which the separated children are kept have failed to change the administration’s stance.
Faced with strong opposition and widespread criticism, Trump merely warned that there were “consequences when people cross our Border illegally.”
He has also argued that parents attempting to cross the border are “using children for their own sinister purposes.”
After a federal judge ordered the families to be reunited, the government claimed last week that more than 1,800 children separated at the U.S.-Mexico border have been reunited with parents and sponsors even though hundreds of children still remain separated.
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