Border melee ups ante on shutdown

Border melee ups ante on shutdown
© Getty Images

Clashes between migrants and law enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana have created a new challenge for lawmakers hoping to placate President TrumpDonald John TrumpProsecutors investigating Trump inaugural fund, pro-Trump super PAC for possible illegal foreign donations: NY Times George Conway: Why take Trump's word over prosecutors' if he 'lies about virtually everything' Federal judge says lawsuit over Trump travel ban waivers will proceed MORE’s demands for a border wall and prevent a government shutdown.

Before border authorities turned to tear gas on Sunday to turn away migrants rushing the border, many lawmakers and aides on Capitol Hill thought Trump would likely sign funding legislation to prevent a shutdown, even if it represented a watered-down border security package.

ADVERTISEMENT

The ugliness on Sunday, Republicans say, is only likely to convince Trump to dig his heels in harder on more funding for the wall.

In a tweet on Monday, the president threatened to “close the Border permanently if need be” and demanded that lawmakers “fund the wall!”

Later, he defended the use of tear gas at the border and said members of the migrant caravan would not be allowed to enter the United States.

“They had to use [tear gas] because they were being rushed by some very tough people and they used tear gas,” Trump said. “And here’s the bottom line: nobody’s coming into our country unless they come in legally.”

Parts of the government will shut down on Dec. 8 if the president does not sign a new funding bill into law.

Fresh off their retaking of the House majority, Democrats feel they have the leverage to block Trump’s demands.

They are skeptical about any deal that would fund the border wall in exchange for helping immigrants who lost protections when Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year. 

Senate Republican leaders say the clashes at the border have underscored the importance of Trump’s demands for a wall or “wall system.” 

“What it points to is the importance of having a wall system, whether that’s entirely a physical wall or a technological wall. That border security is an increasingly important issue,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneHillicon Valley — Presented by AT&T — New momentum for privacy legislation | YouTube purges spam videos | Apple plans B Austin campus | Iranian hackers targeted Treasury officials | FEC to let lawmakers use campaign funds for cyber The Year Ahead: Push for privacy bill gains new momentum On The Money: Trump, Dems battle over border wall before cameras | Clash ups odds of shutdown | Senators stunned by Trump's shutdown threat | Pelosi calls wall 'a manhood thing' for Trump MORE (S.D.), the incoming Senate Republican whip. 

GOP leaders warn, however, that it will be difficult to secure the full $5 billion that Trump wants for the wall, which is less than the $25 billion originally estimated for the project. House legislation meets the $5 billion figure, but a Senate bill would provide $1.6 billion in funding.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell sets Monday test vote on criminal justice bill Senate votes to end US support for Saudi war, bucking Trump Former FBI official says Mueller won’t be ‘colored by politics’ in Russia probe MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyOn The Money: GOP senator floats options to prevent shutdown | Republicans stunned by Trump shutdown threat | Schumer insists Dems won't budge on wall | Pelosi expects fierce fight over Trump tax returns | Trump warns GM won't be treated well after layoff GOP senator floats options to prevent shutdown The Hill's Morning Report — Where the shutdown fight stands MORE (R-Ala.) tried to steer Trump away from a possible shutdown during a White House meeting shortly before Thanksgiving. 

Senate Republicans see a shutdown over a border wall as a political liability in the next election cycle, when the Senate map will be more favorable for Democrats. 

Sen. Joni ErnstJoni Kay ErnstSenators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying Trump shock leaves Republicans anxious over 2019 Iowa’s Ernst will run for reelection in 2020 MORE (R-Iowa), who faces a potentially tough reelection in 2020, told CNN on Sunday that “I hope we can avoid shutting down the government.” 

Ernst is the newest member of the Senate GOP elected leadership for the next Congress.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerSenators offer measure naming Saudi crown prince 'responsible' for Khashoggi slaying Can a rising tide of female legislators lift all boats? Setting the record straight about No Labels MORE (Colo.), another vulnerable GOP incumbent and the outgoing chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters Monday: “I’m confident that we’ll put together a package that can receive bipartisan support.” 

“There’s no reason a shutdown needs to occur,” he added. 

At the same time, Republicans acknowledge a final deal will require buy-in from Trump.

Asked Monday if Senate leaders could accept a border security funding number below the $5 billion level set by the House, Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP senator floats options to prevent shutdown Congress strikes deal on bill for sexual harassment cases involving lawmakers The Hill's Morning Report — Takeaways from the battle royal in the Oval Office MORE (Texas) said, “at this point it’s really kind of up to what the president would find acceptable.”

“Ultimately, he’s going to have to sign it and we’re not going to have a veto-proof majority,” he said. “So I think we’re better off trying to negotiate that with the president, and I think there’s some potential there.”

One proposal being floated is to attach to the year-end spending bill a version of the bipartisan House legislation sponsored by Reps. Will HurdWilliam Ballard HurdCongressional scorecard finds federal agencies improving on IT Juan Williams: Nowhere to go for black Republicans Texas lawmakers introduce legislation aimed at helping border counties identify missing migrants MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarDeGette dropped from chief deputy whip spot Hispanic Caucus picks Castro as its next chair Progressive rep says she’s ‘very disappointed' by Barbara Lee’s loss in bid for Dem caucus chair MORE (D-Calif.) that would protect DACA recipients from deportation in exchange for what they call “commonsense border security measures” such as enhanced technology, manpower and physical barriers where necessary at the border. 

Cornyn on Monday said the idea is under discussion but has yet to be approved by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump says he 'never directed' Cohen to break the law | GOP reels from Trump shutdown threat | Alleged spy Butina pleads guilty to conspiracy charge The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act kneecaps American factory workers The Hill's Morning Report — Where the shutdown fight stands MORE (R-Wis.) or incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyMcCarthy calls on incoming Democrats to embrace bipartisanship, not 'food fight' or investigations GOP congresswoman says she opted out of NRCC run because McCarthy had 'a different plan' GOP struggles to win votes for Trump’s B wall demand MORE (R-Calif.). 

“Congressman Hurd, who I was visiting with, said they were going to see if there was something that could be done using Hurd-Aguilar, but that was over in the House and that was just between him and me and it didn’t involve House leadership,” he said. 

Senate Democrats are pressing for other concessions in the year-end spending deal, which would include seven appropriations bills to fund about 25 percent of the government.  

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerA missed opportunity for Democrats in the border wall showdown We have the funds we need to secure the border Anti-wall is not a border policy: How Democrats can sell an immigration plan MORE (N.Y.) on Monday said Democrats will push to add language to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE from being fired without just cause to the must-pass spending bill if GOP leaders refused to schedule the protection bill for a stand-alone floor vote. 

Former House Republican Whip Tom DeLay (Texas) warned that the lame-duck session is the president’s best chance to get full funding for the wall, before Democrats take over control of the House in January.

“If the president wants the wall, he’s got to win this fight in the next few weeks because he’s not going to get any money for the wall for the next two years with the Democrats in control of the House,” he said in a CNN interview. “He’s got to lay down a marker, which he has done. If he has to shut down the government — only 25 percent of the government, by the way — then he’s got to make sure the Democrats understand that’s going to happen.”

Trump’s response to Sunday’s border clash has prompted outrage among Latino leaders.

“He’s using these refugees as a political piñata to get money for a wall he promised Mexico would pay for,” said Domingo Garcia, the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. “We’re sending a message to the world when you see women and children being teargassed and hit with rubber bullets only because they’re seeking asylum in the United States. It’s a sad, tragic situation we’re seeing.”

Jordain Carney contributed.