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Border melee ups ante on shutdown

Border melee ups ante on shutdown
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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 TrumpHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill DEA places agent seen outside Capitol during riot on leave Georgia Gov. Kemp says he'd 'absolutely' back Trump as 2024 nominee 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.

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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about any deal that would fund the border wall in exchange for helping immigrants who lost protections when Trump rescinded the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program last year.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 ThuneDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote Parliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package 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 McConnellGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks DOJ declined to take up Chao ethics probe Trump was unhinged and unchanged at CPAC MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers 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 ErnstDemocrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Bill to shorten early voting period, end Election Day early in Iowa heads to governor's desk We know how Republicans will vote — but what do they believe? 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 GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 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 CornynSenate coronavirus bill delayed until Thursday Democrats cut deals to bolster support for relief bill Bottom line 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 HurdHere are the three GOP lawmakers who voted for the Equality Act Sunday shows - COVID-19 dominates as grim milestone approaches Former Texas GOP rep: Trump should hold very little or no role in Republican Party MORE (R-Texas) and Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarPartisan headwinds threaten Capitol riot commission AOC v. Pelosi: Round 12? Maloney to lead Democrats' campaign arm 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 RyanBoehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be Cruz hires Trump campaign press aide as communications director MORE (R-Wis.) or incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyHouse passes voting rights and elections reform bill Parliamentarian strikes down Pelosi priority in aid package Democrats snipe on policy, GOP brawls over Trump 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 SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (N.Y.) on Monday said Democrats will push to add language to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerWhy a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel CNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump 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.