President Donald Trump said Sunday he’s skeptical lawmakers can cut a deal on the $5.7 billion in border-wall funding he has demanded,telling The Wall Street Journalin an interview that another government shutdown is “certainly an option.”
The longest shutdown in US history ended after 35 days on Friday, after Trump caved and signed a short-term funding bill that included no money for the wall.
The government is funded only until February 15, at which point another shutdown would begin if Trump doesn’t sign a subsequent funding bill.
But Trump told The Journal on Sunday that he believed there was less than a 50% chance that anewly convened groupof 17 Democrats and Republicans from both the House and Senate would reach an acceptable deal.
“I personally think it’s less than 50-50, but you have a lot of very good people on that board,” he said.
Trump added that he doubted he would accept anything less than $5.7 billion in wall funding, and he also doubted he would agree to exchange citizenship for so-called “Dreamers,” young immigrants brought to the US as children, in exchange for the wall funding.
“That’s a separate subject to be taken up at a separate time,” he said.
Trump previously tried to exchange protection for Dreamers with the wall, offering Democrats a three-year extension to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Democrats scoffed at offer, complaining that such protections would only only temporary, and that Trump himself was responsible for the program’s termination.
Meanwhile, Democrats appeared equally stubborn on refusing the wall funding, no matter what sweeteners Trump could include in a deal.
“Have I not been clear on a wall?” House Speaker Nancy Pelositold reporterson Friday. “I’ve been very clear on the wall.”
Trump’s capitulation on Friday was widely perceived as a humiliating defeat, after Trump vowed for weeks that he wouldn’t reopen the government without the funding. Instead, he walked away empty-handed while Democrats crowed over the victory, leaving doubts that he could secure a deal for his desired funding in just three weeks.
Some of the staunchest conservatives and immigration hardliners came down hard on Trump for backing down on the funding, including the far-right commentator Ann Coulter, who complained vehemently over the weekend that Trump was a “wimp.”
Trump told The Journal on Sunday he’d heard about Coulter’s rage.
“I hear she’s become very hostile,” Trump said. “Maybe I didn’t return her phone call or something.”
The Trump administration has also been hinting heavily in recent days that Trump will seek to bypass Congress for the funding by declaring a national emergency.
“We have been hoping for months to do it through legislation with Democrats because that’s the right way for the government to function,” Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff,told Fox News. “But at the end of the day, the president’s commitment is to defend the nation and he will do it either with or without Congress.”
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