Trump wall moves to center of shutdown fight

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Two House conservatives on Monday warned that the government could shut down if a spending bill does not include money to fund President Trump’s wall along the Mexican border.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, even said he believed that Trump would veto a spending measure that did not include money for the wall.

“My conversations with the president have led me to believe that there is nothing less than a full and total commitment on his part to only sign into law a funding bill that actually allows for us to start construction of a border wall on our southern border,” Meadows told Breitbart News.

{mosads}He said there was “nothing more critical that has to be funded than funding the border wall.”

Earlier on Monday, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) vowed to “fight every spending bill that doesn’t fund that wall” in a new advertisement for his Senate campaign.

“And if I have to filibuster on the Senate floor, I’ll even read the King James Bible until the wall is funded,” Brooks said in the ad.

Brooks threatened to go up against GOP colleagues who block funding for the border wall.

“We’re going to build that wall, or you’ll know the name of every Republican who surrenders to the Democrats to break my filibuster. I give you my word, and I don’t give my word lightly,” he continued.

When Congress passed a funding bill in May to keep the government operating through the end of the current fiscal year running through September, money for the wall was not included, despite demands by Trump. The funding bill did, however, allocate $1.5 billion to border security.

Democrats crowed that they had won a significant victory over the White House, something that might motivate Trump to dig in for a new battle.

Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress would risk being blamed for a shutdown given their control over the executive and legislative branches. 

Trump and high-ranking members of his administration, however, have said that a shutdown could be productive.

And a spokesman for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leading conservative voice in the House, said he agrees with Meadows’s position.

Freedom Caucus spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said that while the group has not taken a formal position yet on funding for the wall, it could adopt one in the coming weeks.

“The vast majority of the group would like to see border wall funding,” she said.

As of press time, the White House did not return calls for comment.

Current government funding runs out in September, and the government would face a shutdown if Trump doesn’t sign a funding bill or continuing resolution by Oct. 1.

Republicans have been divided over Trump’s demand for a wall, with some members from border states in the House and Senate questioning the wisdom of the president’s signature campaign promise.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), whose district is along the U.S.-Mexico border, has expressed opposition to Trump’s proposed wall.

“Well, we just see in my district where people will go over the wall when it’s built. They’ll come under it. They tunnel. And they’ll go through it,” he said in an April interview with NPR. Pearce is running for governor of the state.

Freedom Caucus members have been flexing their muscle on the budget.

Plans for the House Budget Committee to roll out its budget were scuttled for a third time this week as disagreements in the Republican caucus persist over how to move forward.

The Freedom Caucus has insisted on increasing proposed mandatory spending cuts from the $150 billion the committee had proposed to $200 billion. If that number were to rise to $250 billion, the conservative group said it would also be willing to accept a debt ceiling increase, another must-pass piece of legislation on the congressional docket.

Centrists in the House argue the conservative demands are implausible since any final spending bill will require Democratic support in the Senate. They argue the House GOP should simply focus on a budget that can actually make it through Congress.

Democrats have long said that funding for the wall is a nonstarter.

In June, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) sent a letter expressing concern “with the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico,” and rejected the idea of funding it.

House Democrats would also oppose such a measure. 

“Democrats remain strongly opposed to President Trump’s taxpayer-funded border wall, which would be unwise, immoral, and very costly. And unfortunately for Mr. Meadows, the opposition to it is both strong and bipartisan,” said Caroline Behringer, a spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). 

The Senate Budget Committee is awaiting action from the House before it brings up its own version of a resolution.

A GOP Senate source, however, said the committee could start moving ahead on its own resolution if the House doesn’t act by the time the Senate votes on its version of a bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

–Niv Elis contributed to this report.

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