President Donald Trump warned Wednesday that he's "totally willing" to risk a government shutdown if Congress doesn't approve the $5 billion need to fund his proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
The current Congress has until December 7 to agree a spending bill that will keep some government departments, such as Homeland Security and Justice, funded until a longer-term bill can be agreed under the new chamber, which will be lead by Democratic lawmakers, next year. However, the $5 billion Trump is reportedly seeking from Congress is nearly four times more than Senate Republicans had planned for -- and Democrats rejected -- earlier this year.
"I don't do anything ... just for political gain," Trump said in an interview with Politico. "But I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border, they look at the rush to the police, they look at the rock throwers and really hurting three people, three very brave border patrol folks -- I think that it's a tremendous issue, but much more importantly, is really needed. So we have to have border security."
Trump has used the issue of border security in his negotiations with House and Senate lawmakers heading both into and out of the November mid-term elections, threatening to completely close entry ports from Mexico in advance of migrants from central America.
Earlier this week, authorities shut the country's busiest border crossing, in San Ysidro, California, for several hours as U.S. Customs and Border Protection lobbed tear gas at the estimated crowd of around 500 people whom Mexican police had said were trying to "violently" and illegally enter the United States.
"We want to finish the wall. We've got to get funding from Congress," Trump told a campaign rally in Tupelo, Miss, Tuesday. "And if this isn't the right time to get funding, when you look at what's happening at the border, there will never be a right time. So we're going very strongly for funding for the wall."
Even a partial government shutdown could engender bad faith between Trump and his Democratic rivals as they assume control of Congress for the first time since 2010 and attempt to broker deals on issues such as tax reform, banking regulation and trade policy while simultaneously tackling the country's spiraling deficit, which topped a record $1 trillion in the fiscal year that ended on September 30.