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Trump may force government shutdown, veto bill over border wall

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There’s growing anxiety in Washington that President Donald Trump may veto a short-term funding bill over the legislation’s lack of funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border.

In a tweet Thursday, Trump seemed to express dissatisfaction with the Congress’ current course of action: a clean, short-term funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, or CR. It would keep the government open until February 8. It includes no funding for the border wall.

“When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” Trump said. “Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries – but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!”

House Republican leadership on Thursday abruptly canceled the final scheduled press conference of Speaker Paul Ryan’s career, with reports indicating he had taken an “emergency” call from Trump.

The CR is the result of a month of contentious negotiations over the shutdown deadline, with Trump demanding $5 billion in wall funding while Democrats would only offer $1.6 billion in general border security funds. The stopgap bill passed the Senate on Wednesday and a vote in the House is expected on Thursday, but sudden rumblings of a Trump veto could delay those plans.

The president has a long history of grumbling about funding fights, including calls for a “good” government shutdown.

If Trump does veto the bill, it would almost ensure the federal government would enter a partial shutdown at the end of Friday. According to congressional research, 800,000 federal employees would either be forced to work without pay or be furloughed in the event of a shutdown.

Given the risks and the potential political disaster of forcing a shutdown just days before Christmas, Trump appeared to support the CR on Wednesday. But Trump has received mounting pressure from conservatives and other allies.

The current funding fight is more consequential for Trump than previous confrontations since the incoming Democratic House majority likely means there will be almost zero chance for border-wall funding over the next two years. Trump threatened on Thursday to stymie all Democratic legislation if they do not provide funding for the wall.

“The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country,” he tweeted. “What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS!”

A slew of hardline conservatives have called for the president to veto the CR. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of ultra-conservative members, used a series of speeches on Wednesday to plead with Trump to veto the bill.

“If you veto this bill, we’ll be there, more importantly, the American people will be there,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, the Freedom Caucus Chair. “They’ll be there to support you. Let’s build the wall and make sure we do our job in Congress.”

In addition, many pro-Trump media members, such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, called on the president to veto the bill.

Trump previously signed a major two-year budget agreement, the omnibus bill, in March after threats to veto the bill due to its lack of border wall funding. At the signing ceremony, the president warned that it would be the last major funding bill without border wall funding that he would sign.

“But I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again,” Trump said nine months ago.

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