President Donald Trump reiterated his demand in a new interview that Congress appropriate $5 billion for a border wall, saying he would “totally be willing” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the funding.
The government faces a potential shutdown on December 7 if a funding deal is not reached. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats’ position remains at $1.6 billion for border security measures agreed to by GOP and Democratic appropriators.
Trump told Politico in an interview published Wednesday that he believes he would win a political battle with Democrats over the issue.
“I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner,” the President said, citing recent incidents at the border that he believes have motivated support for more security. He also said the $5 billion would only be for a physical barrier and that “the number is larger for border security.”
The newspaper reported that Trump appeared “unflinchingly firm” on his desire for the $5 billion. In an interview with The Washington Post published on Tuesday evening, however, Trump appeared to leave the door open to finding a different solution if he can’t convince Democrats to support the funding.
The President also told Politico that he “was in no mood” to reach a compromise with Democrats on a large-scale immigration deal and wants to wait to form a compromise on “Dreamers” – undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children – until after current court challenges to the program are decided.
He predicted the Supreme Court would take up the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, an Obama-era initiative that protected thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children from deportation.
“I have big heart for DACA,” Trump told Politico. “I want to be able to keep them. But if the court rules properly, there will be no problem with DACA and we’ll get everything solved. If the court rules in favor of Obama having that right, it’s going to be a disaster because we will get nothing, we will get nothing done.”
On Wednesday, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan, speaking after a closed-door meeting with the GOP caucus, pinned responsibility largely on Senate Democrats.
“The House has the President’s $5 billion for the wall. The House is there. We have never been the issue here,” Ryan said at news conference. “But ultimately, the President and the Senate Democrats have to come to agreement as well,” he said. He added: “I think what we are going to have to do is sort all of this out between all of the parties that are involved.”
Ryan would not say how the House would bridge the gap between the $1.6 billion that Democrats have proposed for border security and the President’s requested $5 billion for border wall funding.
Two other Republican House leaders, Reps. Steve Scalise and Kevin McCarthy, expressed support on Tuesday for the $5 billion that Trump requested, which they said he was adamant about getting.
“We need to be there for him and make sure this gets signed,” Scalise, the House majority whip, told reporters after a White House meeting.
Scalise said negotiations are underway between Republicans and Democrats on securing the funding, and he insisted there was a way to resolve the matter without a government shutdown.
CNN’s Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.