Disconnect: Trump, GOP not on same page

President Trump is on a different page than Republican leaders in Congress just days away from a possible government shutdown.

Trump and the White House are pressuring Congress to include funding to build the president’s signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a bill to keep the government open past Friday.

GOP leaders, worried their party will be blamed for a shutdown and realizing they’ll need votes from Democrats to get a stopgap measure to Trump’s desk, have said funds for the wall should be dealt with in a supplemental spending bill or as part of next year’s appropriations process.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Dem candidate says he faced cultural barriers on the campaign trail because he is working-class Former House candidate and ex-ironworker says there is 'buyer's remorse' for Trump in Midwest Head of top hedge fund association to step down MORE (R-Wis.) last month even noted that construction on the wall couldn’t begin soon.

“The big chunk of money for the wall, really, is … next year’s appropriations, because they literally can’t start construction even this quickly,” he told “CBS This Morning.”


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Senate GOP eyes probes into 2016 issues 'swept under the rug' Senate gears up for Green New Deal vote MORE (R-Ky.), asked at a press conference last month about the prospect of adding money for a wall to the spending bill, turned the question over to Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntRisk-averse Republicans are failing the republic Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks The Hill's Morning Report - Dems contemplate big election and court reforms MORE (R-Mo.), a member of his leadership team, who said a spending deal would come together more easily without bringing in such issues.

Such public signals have done little to diminish the administration’s enthusiasm for dealing with the wall right now, especially with Trump nearing his 100th day in office on Saturday.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, a former conservative GOP lawmaker, is demanding an early down payment on the wall — and has floated a compromise with Democrats that would see the administration provide critical funds for ObamaCare in exchange for wall funding. Democrats say they won’t make that deal.

Spokesmen for McConnell and Ryan on Monday declined to say where their bosses stood on the administration’s new push.

The public differences underscore how Trump’s demands for the wall are making life more difficult for his congressional allies, who increasingly must consider next year’s midterm elections.

“Trump is putting congressional Republicans in a difficult situation because he’s demanding things that are going to be very hard for them to deliver,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the left-leaning Brookings Institution.

“He wants money to build the border wall. ... He could risk a government shutdown just over that issue,” he added. “Public opinion is not on his side either in the sense that large numbers of people don’t see that as a high priority.”

The issue of including border wall funds in the spending bill isn’t the only disconnect between Trump and GOP congressional leaders.

As Trump seeks to fulfill his campaign promises, he seems increasingly on a different page than are Ryan, McConnell and other top Republicans on Capitol Hill.

Trump on Wednesday is expected to announce a tax cut proposal that would reduce the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.

Such a proposal would almost certainly add to the deficit, something Ryan warned about late last year.

Ryan told Fox News in December that he would love to get the corporate tax rate down to 15 percent, but that it may not be feasible.

“Fifteen percent isn’t deficit-neutral,” Ryan said.

Ryan and other Republicans want to keep tax reform deficit-neutral so that they can use budget reconciliation rules to avoid a Senate filibuster. If such a bill adds to the deficit, the tax cuts would expire in 10 years.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchThis week: Congress set for next stage of Mueller probe fight NY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders MORE (R-Utah) warned Monday that any tax bill that raises the deficit might not fly on Capitol Hill, where rising budget deficits have been a top concern of conservative lawmakers in recent years.

“I’m not sure he’s going to be able to get away with that,” he said.

When asked why not, Hatch replied, “Because you can’t very well balance the budget.”

ObamaCare is another disconnect.

While the White House has not been insistent on another vote to repeal and replace ObamaCare this week, it has repeatedly signaled its interest in pushing forward on the issue.

Ryan in a conference call with his members on Saturday signaled that his focus would be on keeping the government open and passing a spending bill — and not on ObamaCare.

Former Rep. Jim Walsh (R-N.Y.), a senior appropriator when he served in Congress, said his former colleagues need to trust their instincts regardless of Trump’s demands.

“I think they need to trust their political instincts. They know what can be done. They’ve been through this drill before with other presidents,” he said.

“The president had a lot of preconceived ideas before he came to Washington, but events and politics are reshaping those,” he added. “He made promises that he feels compelled to try to keep. If he didn’t ask for these things, people would say, ‘Why the hell didn’t you just ask?’

“He is asking, but he’s getting a no.”

There is some talk of finding a compromise that might save face for the White House.

A Senate GOP aide said the legislation could increase funding for border security, enhancing surveillance and enforcement while stopping short of paying for construction of the wall itself.

“This is an opportunity for the president to get something to qualify as a down payment. Both sides will have something they can point to,” the aide said.

Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynConservatives wage assault on Mueller report Senate GOP poised to go 'nuclear' on Trump picks GOP rep to introduce constitutional amendment to limit Supreme Court seats to 9 MORE (Texas) told reporters Monday afternoon that Democrats should at least agree to more money for border security.

“I think border security is important, and I think certainly completing or at least making a down payment … seems to be a no-brainer,” he said.

He conceded that “it sounds like everybody is looking to save face in one way or another.”

A Democratic aide said increased security funding could be a potential compromise.

“We never had a problem with border security; it’s the wall,” the aide said.

On taxes, some Republicans also suggested they were ready to give Trump some room.

Asked if deficit neutrality is still a top priority, Cornyn said Monday, “I don’t think anybody is drawing any lines in the sand.”

“There are different views and opinions on that,” Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Dems look for traction following Barr-Mueller findings Congress should take action to stop unfair taxation of the digital economy The fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change MORE (S.D.), the third-ranking member of the Senate GOP leadership, said about whether the cost of tax cuts needs to be offset. “Probably not entirely.”

Jordain Carney contributed.