Frustrated Trump wants action on border wall, immigration

Frustrated Trump wants action on border wall, immigration
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpIran claims it rejected Trump meeting requests 8 times ESPY host jokes Putin was as happy after Trump summit as Ovechkin winning Stanley Cup Russian ambassador: Trump made ‘verbal agreements’ with Putin MORE on Tuesday demanded that Congress make progress on building his signature wall along the Mexican border, underlining his frustration with the lack of legislative progress on immigration.

During a visit to Capitol Hill, Trump called on Congress to beef up border security, crack down on so-called sanctuary cities and end the practice of “catch and release” immigration laws — a slate of ideas that have run into a buzz saw of opposition from Democrats.

“We are calling on Congress to secure our borders, support our border agents, stop sanctuary cities and shut down policies that release violent criminals back into our communities,” Trump said at an event outside the Capitol honoring fallen law enforcement officers. “We don’t want it any longer. We’ve had it. Enough is enough.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Trump then brought his calls for a border wall directly to Senate Republicans during a private lunch at the Capitol, according to GOP lawmakers who attended the meeting.


“He wants the wall. He made that abundantly clear,” Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) told reporters. “He said, ‘I want the wall.’ I don’t think that’s news.”

“He said we have to secure the border. And the American people support us on that,” added Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins GOP senator: Harley-Davidson is right to move some production overseas GOP senator: Trump’s policies doing 'permanent damage' MORE (R-Wis.).

While Trump did not threaten to shut down the government over the issue during Tuesday’s closed-door lunch, the president tweeted earlier this month that any funding measure — including a short-term continuing resolution that would be due at the end of September — needs to include money for the border wall.

The demands could create headaches for congressional leaders as they try to hash out spending agreements that can pass both chambers and avoid another government shutdown just weeks before the midterm elections.

“That’s something we want to avoid, but I think both parties should do their utmost to avoid any government shutdown,” Sen. Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyJuan Williams: Putin wins as GOP spins Five things to watch for in Trump-Putin summit GOP senators visited Moscow on July 4, warned Russia against meddling in 2018 election: report MORE (R-Ala.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters on Tuesday. “I think the president would understand that.”

Trump, however, has grown increasingly frustrated that his administration and Congress have struggled to implement his immigration agenda. His travel ban has been bogged down by legal challenges, for example, while Congress has so far failed to fulfill his request for $25 billion to build a “big beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a sign of his growing frustration, the president reportedly dressed down Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Court rules against Trump administration on transgender military ban The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE at a recent Cabinet meeting for not being aggressive enough in going after people who cross illegally into the U.S.

"He's frustrated, and rightly so," Nielsen said on Fox News. "Can you imagine, here is the president of the United States saying I want to secure this country... and Congress is saying we don't have time, we are busy, we've got to go on recess."

And, hours before the last government funding deadline in March, Trump threatened not to sign a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill because it didn’t fully fund his border wall, among other things. The president ended up signing the bill, but warned he wouldn’t do it again.

“There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill,” Trump said at the time. “I say to Congress: I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it.”

Both chambers are now racing to pass all 12 appropriations bills for fiscal 2019 ahead of the next government funding deadline on Sept. 30 — a tall order even in a nonelection year.

Over the weekend, Trump further ramped up pressure on appropriators by tweeting that the Senate should cancel their planned August recess if they don’t finish up their work on spending bills.

Shelby said Trump didn’t broach the idea of canceling the recess during Tuesday’s lunch. But Shelby acknowledged it will be difficult to get through all their funding measures before August and expressed support for staying in town.

It’s an idea that might be popular with Senate Republicans since it would keep Senate Democrats in Washington and off the campaign trail. Democrats in the upper chamber are defending more than two-dozen seats this fall, compared to eight for the GOP.

Senate Republicans need at least nine Democrats to pass any legislation given the filibuster, but Democrats are highly unlikely to support a spending bill that includes money for the wall, which would hand Trump a major victory right before the midterm elections.

Democrats may also be less willing to play along after Trump rejected their last offer to allow some border wall funding in exchange for protecting immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

“We already had that showdown, and it was very unfortunate,” said Sen. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Election security bill picks up new support in Senate Senate must approve Justice Served Act to achieve full potential of DNA evidence MORE (D-Minn.). “We were willing to start funding the wall and other border security in exchange for a path to citizenship for Dreamers. And we got a gut punch, and they turned it down.”

Senate Democrats, who were demanding protections for so-called Dreamers in any spending bill, took the brunt of the heat for the brief government shutdown in January. That could bolster beliefs that another shutdown over immigration would play positively for the GOP.

Sen. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenate Dems rip Trump after Putin news conference Dems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (D-Conn.) said he thinks Trump wants to draw attention to the border wall in order to energize his base heading into the fall.

“I think his goal is to keep the issue of the wall open so he can rally his base,” Murphy said.