Trump Attacks Dems Over Funding For ‘Badly Needed’ Border Wall

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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President Donald Trump went after Democratic lawmakers Sunday who have promised to reject an emergency spending measure that includes funds for a border wall. Trump’s clash with congressional opposition comes just days ahead of an April 28 budget deadline.

He highlighted the issue in a pair of tweets, while top administration officials took to Sunday news shows to reiterate that wall funding remains high on the White House wish list for any bill coming out of Congress.

“The Democrats don’t want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,” Trump tweeted Sunday.

The president also brought up a funding mechanism he first suggested on the campaign trail: making Mexico pay for the wall. Taxpayers will be on the hook in the short term, “so we can get started early,” but Mexico will eventually pay for the border wall “in some form,” he said.

Trump’s line of attack came in response to statements by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, who have said they will reject a temporary spending measure that appropriates additional money for the border wall. As both sides dig in, the administration’s signature border security initiative threatens to derail negotiations to fund the government beyond Friday, when the current continuing resolution expires.

“The wall is, in my view, immoral, expensive, unwise, and when the president says, ‘Well, I promised a wall during my campaign,’ I don’t think he said he was going to pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall on to the taxpayer,” Pelosi said Sunday on “Meet the Press.”

Democratic Rep. Ted Lieu of California backed Pelosi’s hard line, emphatically rejecting the addition of border wall funds into the emergency spending bill.

“I’m not just NO, I’m a HELL NO on a budget/CR that makes taxpayers fund stupid border wall idea of @realDonaldTrump,” he tweeted Sunday.

Despite Democratic opposition, Trump administration officials insisted border wall funding is a top priority for both the remainder of this fiscal year and for 2018. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration would rather avoid a government shutdown over the issue, but will pressure Congress to go along with Trump’s core campaign promises.

“A shutdown is not a desired end … It’s not something we want to have,” Mulvaney told Fox News’ Chris Wallace on Sunday. “We want our priorities funded. And one of the biggest priorities during the campaign was border security–keeping Americans safe. And part of that was a border wall.”

Mulvaney previously said the administration would consider negotiating with Congressional Democrats by agreeing to fund subsidies under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in return for Democratic support for wall funding, but Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dismissed that idea out of hand, The Washington Post reported.

“The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the President said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete non-starter,” Schumer spokesman Matt House said in a statement Friday.

The administration’s position appears unchanged as budget negotiations near the Friday deadline. Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, who has emerged as one of the administration’s biggest proponents of constructing more border barriers, said Trump would would not likely back off earlier promises to get wall funding from Congress this year.

“I think it goes without saying that the president has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall,” he said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired Sunday. “So I would suspect, he’ll do the right thing for sure, but I would suspect he will be insistent on the funding.”

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Will Racke