The Trump administration has reportedly backpedaled on President Donald Trump's warning that he would veto a government funding deal if it did not include funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On Sept. 1, a GOP congressional aide, who requested anonymity, disclosed that the White House told Republican lawmakers that the president would not veto a budget deal that did not appropriate $1.6 billion to begin construction of a wall along the southern border, The Washington Post reports.
Congress returns from August recess on Sept. 5. Lawmakers have until Sept. 30 to pass a funding bill that would keep the government functioning from Oct. 1 until December. Failure to do so would result in a partial government shutdown, according to Newsweek.
On Aug. 22, Trump signaled that he wanted GOP lawmakers to tie a down payment for his border wall in the government funding bill. The president hinted that he would veto any budget deal that did not include appropriations for the project.
"Build that wall," Trump said during an Aug. 22 campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona, The Washington Post reports. "Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it. But believe me, if we have to close down our government, we're building that wall."
Trump's warning drew condemnation from Democrats and reservations from Republicans.
"The president's threat to shut down the government if he does not get his way is the polar opposite of leadership," said the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, Democratic Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, according to The Daily Beast.
GOP Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma said: “It’s always a mistake to shut down the government. You make life worse for the American people. You put the country at risk. It shows political dysfunction, particularly when you control the presidency, the Senate and the House.”
Any budget deal would require support from Senate Democrats, who have been unified in their opposition to any appropriations for a border wall.
White House officials have reportedly told GOP lawmakers that they would not have to include funding for the border wall in the latest government funding bill, but that the Trump administration wants appropriations for the project to be tied to the next budget deal in December.
Delaying a potential government shutdown over the border wall would give Congress more freedom to tackle a myriad of issues in September, such as raising the federal debt limit and passing a disaster relief package for the victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, asserted that he supported Trump's border proposal, stating: "Obviously I'm supportive of the wall and putting the wall funding in [the government funding bill], but from a pragmatic standpoint, even if we pass a [bill] that has the wall funding in there, it will get stripped out in the Senate," The Washington Post reports.
An Aug. 30 Morning Consult/Politico survey found that 62 percent of registered voters were opposed to using a government shutdown as leverage to fund a border wall. While the majority of voters were against the strategy, 51 percent of Republicans believed acquiring funding for the wall was worth a government shutdown.