GOP divided on Trump’s shutdown threat; Dems opposed

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) listens as President Donald Trump delivers an address to Congress in February. Wednesday, Ryan said he doesn't think shutting down the federal government would be a popular idea among Americans. File Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo/UPI/Pool

Aug. 24 (UPI) — President Donald Trump‘s threat to shut down the government if his border wall isn’t funded has revealed division among Republicans and flat-out rejection from Democrats.

Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said he and Trump share “very legitimate concerns” about the border, but said a shutdown is “not in our interest.”

“I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown,” Ryan said during a news conference in Oregon.

During his campaign-style rally on Tuesday in Phoenix, Trump vowed he would get the border wall he promised on the 2016 campaign trail — or else.

“Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me — if we have to close down our government — we’re building that wall!” he told supporters in Phoenix.

Republican leadership said that while funding Trump’s proposed wall and enhancing border security is essential, shutting down the government to do so is unnecessary.

The last government shutdown in 2013 was largely unpopular in the United States, as a poll showed 81 percent of Americans disapproved and 86 percent believed it damaged the United States’ image in the world. A majority of Americans also blamed Republicans and the GOP-controlled Congress of causing the shutdown.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not specifically support or reject Trump’s ultimatum, but instead suggested he doesn’t want to hold basic federal funding hostage over the issue of border security, adding that he and his team are working with Trump’s administration to “prevent a government default” and “fund the government.”

After reports Trump and McConnell were not communicating, both GOP leaders said they were working together to address Americans’ issues.

“President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell remain united on many shared priorities, including middle class tax relief, strengthening the military, constructing a southern border wall, and other important issues,” the White House said in a statement Wednesday.

Trump on Thursday directly commented on the reports of he and McConnell’s relationship.

“The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed!That should NEVER have happened!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

After the Phoenix rally, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, praised Trump’s “commitment to keeping a promise that was central to his campaign — securing our southern border.”

“Congress would do well to join the president by keeping our own commitments and including border wall funding in upcoming spending measures,” Meadows said in a statement.

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats wholly rejected Trump’s threat. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the threat targets “dreamers” — younger undocumented immigrants protected from deportation under policies by former President Barack Obama.

“Dreamers are not a bargaining chip for the border wall and inhumane deportation force. Period,” Schumer said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump has “yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way.”

“Make no mistake: the president said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall,” Pelosi said. “The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell nearly 90 points Wednesday on news of the shutdown threat — with Boeing and Johnson and Johnson contributing the most to losses. The market was also reacting to Trump’s remark in Phoenix that his government will “probably” terminate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.


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