Flake: ‘Highly unlikely’ Trump will follow through on threat to close border

Outgoing Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAnti-gun violence organization endorses Kelly's Senate bid Arpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument MORE (R-Ariz.) said Friday it was “highly unlikely” that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE would follow through on his threat to close the southern border if Democrats do not agree to provide money for his proposed border wall.

“It’s highly unlikely — gratefully — that he would do that,” Flake said on CNN. “It’s not likely to happen. It would stifle commerce, significant commerce, between our two countries that benefits both of us. So I don’t think he will follow through, I hope not.” 

The border wall has become the focal point of negotiations between Capitol Hill and the White House as a partial government shutdown enters its seventh day.

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Democrats and Republicans have yet to come to an agreement on the president’s demand for $5 billion in border wall funding as part of any legislation to reopen the government. 

The president threatened Friday morning to shut down the border if his demands aren’t met.

“We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with. Hard to believe there was a Congress & President who would approve!” he said in a tweet.

The Senate had previously passed a government funding bill without the border wall funding, but Trump declared the next day he would not sign it without money for his signature campaign promise after facing pressure from conservative commentators and lawmakers. 

The House passed a bill last week with $5.7 billion in border funding, though it was dead on arrival in the Senate as it was clear it would fail to reach a 60-vote hurdle. Democrats in both chambers have declared their opposition to the border wall, with likely next Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi asks Democrats for 'leverage' on impeachment Is there internet life after thirty? Pelosi says Dems 'have to be ready to throw a punch — for the children' in 2020 MORE (D-Calif.) calling it a “non-starter.” 

The shutdown has resulted in the furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal employees and the closure of several government departments, including the Department of Homeland Security and numerous other agencies. It will likely extend into the new year and the next Congress, when Democrats take control of the House of Representatives and gain more leverage in negotiations, leaving them little incentive to agree to Trump’s demand.