Fellow Republicans rebuke Trump over govt shutdown threat

WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans rebuked him after his threat to shut down the US government over funding for a border wall rattled markets and cast a shadow over congressional efforts to raise the country’s debt ceiling and pass spending bills.
“I don’t think anyone’s interested in having a shutdown,” the top Republican in Congress, House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, told reporters on Wednesday in Hillsboro, Oregon, where he visited an Intel factory.
Ryan said building a wall along the country’s border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration was necessary, but added that the government did not have to choose between border security and shuttering operations.
Trump in a speech on Tuesday evening threatened a shutdown if Congress does not agree to fund constructing the wall, a signature promise of his presidential campaign, which added a new complication to Republicans’ months-long struggle to reach a budget deal.
After Mexico rejected a chief part of Trump’s promise — that it would pay for the wall — the president said the United States would fund it initially and be repaid by its southern neighbour. Lawmakers, including many Republicans, have not made that funding a top priority, as some question if a wall is necessary.
Congress will have about 12 working days when it returns on September 5 from its summer break to approve spending measures to keep the government open, while also facing a looming deadline to raise the cap on the amount the government may borrow. Both are must-approve measures.
Ryan suggested Congress would need to approve a short-term extension, or continuing resolution, of current funding levels so that the Senate could have more time to pass a full spending bill. That would push the budget battle to later in the year and could in turn delay attempts at tax reform, another signature Trump campaign issue.
Friction between Republicans and Trump has grown in recent months, with the president publicly castigating some party leaders, notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and expressing infuriation that Congress has not passed any significant legislation since his January inauguration.
McConnell did not take a stand on the border wall issue on Wednesday.
He said in a statement he and Trump were in regular contact and working together on a list of goals that included preventing a government default and funding government priorities “in the short and long terms.”
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation,” he said.
A White House statement said Trump would hold “previously scheduled meetings” with McConnell once Congress returns to Washington and that Trump and McConnell “remain united on many shared priorities, including middle class tax relief, strengthening the military, constructing a southern border wall, and other important issues.”
Congress frequently has to pass funding extensions for a few weeks or months while it hammers out a full budget. — Reuters