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Trump bats for Mexico wall funding as fight looms over govt shutdown

The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!,” the president wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Donald Trump Presidency Updated: Apr 24, 2017 22:26 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times, Washington
Trump Mexico wall,US government shutdown,Obamacare
With US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley at his side (left), US President Donald Trump hosts a working lunch with ambassadors of countries on the UN Security Council at the White House in Washington on Monday.(REUTERS)

President Donald Trump could celebrate his 100 days in office on Saturday with a shutdown of the federal government if negotiations underway on a spending bill fail, over funding for a wall along the border with Mexico, his signature poll promise.

It’s really up to him, and he is standing his ground, for now at least. “The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!,” the president wrote on Twitter on Monday.

The Trump administration is seeking a massive budgetary allocation for defence, another poll promise of the president, and also with an eye on the 100-day mark Trump is expected to announce his ambitious tax overhaul plan on Wednesday.

The president is pushing Republicans to try one more time to pass a legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare despite the failed first attempt, which Trump has said was only the start to the negotiating process and not final attempt.

This appears to be a hectic week.

The two chambers of congress, which resume work this week after a two-week recess, have until Friday, April 28, to thrash out a new spending bill for the president’s signature to keep the federal government funded for another year.

Failure to come up with one will not lead to a shutdown necessarily — they can keep the government funded through a short-term interim bill — and keep negotiating till arriving at a legislation all parties are happy to sign off on. The last government shutdown was in 2013.

The real sticking point this time is Trump’s wall, which is likely to cost the US an estimated $21.6 billion if Mexico refuses to pay for it as it has vowed to. The president indicated in a Sunday tweet the US will have to pay for now.

“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,” he wrote, adding, “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying…”

The administration is rushing to line up achievements for the president to talk about as he completes 100 days, a watershed moment he has appeared to both dismiss and acknowledge, depending perhaps on the way he sees his young presidency seem to be going.

Trump is scheduled to talk about his achievements at a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the day after the federal government runs out of funding if negotiations fail, and the White House has already started rolling out what looks like a list of the highlights.

But Democrats are in no mood to give in on the President’s wall. “The Democrats do not support the wall,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told NBC Sunday.

“The burden to keep it (the government) open is on the Republicans … building a wall is not an answer. Not here or any place.”

Despite the fact Republicans control congress, they need Democrats in both chambers to pass the spending bill — at least eight in the senate and some in House to offset the votes of conservatives who could go could against the party line.

First Published: Apr 24, 2017 22:24 IST