Trump blinks on border wall showdown

Trump blinks on border wall showdown

With the government set to exhaust its current funding at midnight Friday, Trump's White House is under the gun to craft a compromise that would keep the government running while not appearing to cave on the president's demand that Congress fund a wall on the border with Mexico.

The negotiations over the spending bill took center stage Monday despite a separate White House push for fast action to revive health care legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Trump has pressured Congress to allocate $1.4 billion in the spending bill to begin construction of a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border but the president is now said to be amenable to language that would fund alternative security enhancements.

Asserting that building a wall on the Mexican border will stop drugs from pouring into the United States, Trump on Monday said that if it is not built then the drug situation will never be fixed the way it should be.

The same day, federal agencies would have to close unless lawmakers pass a $1 trillion spending bill financing them or legislation keeping them open temporarily while talks continue.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a signing event for S.544, the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act, at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 19, 2017.

To avoid a government shutdown, White House officials on Monday said Trump may be open to a budget agreement that includes money for border security technology and border agents, and not necessarily a wall.

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"If the president stepped out of it, we could get a budget done by Friday", Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday in a conference call with reporters, referring to Democratic and Republican budget negotiators.

As the party in control of the government, he doesn't want Republicans to shoulder the blame for any shutdown.

The White House says President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had "a very amicable call" Tuesday evening, hours after Trump claimed Canada had "outsmarted" the US for a long time but his administration is "not going to put up with it".

The foreign minister said Mexico regarded remittances, which Trump had threatened to go after to pay for the wall, as non-negotiable, saying they could prove a "breaking point" issue in any dialogue that encompassed other matters. With the president's recent comments, that approach now appears likely to prevail. "It's good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations", Schumer said late Monday.

Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass the budget measure, had a less charitable version of negotiations.

Now both the presidency and the legislative branch are in Republican hands, but we still are facing a government shutdown. In the House, conservatives led by the Freedom Caucus and other fiscal hawks have regularly bolted on spending bills, and Democrats have provided enough votes for passage.

The original GOP bill eliminated numerous mandates, offered skimpier subsidies for consumers to buy care and rolled back a Medicaid expansion. GOP leaders avoided a planned House vote last month, which would have failed due to opposition from GOP moderates and conservatives alike.

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