Feds on Trump's shutdown threat: 'It's blackmail'

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At a raucous political rally in Phoenix on August 22, U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the federal government if Congress refuses to send him a spending bill that funds the U.S. -Mexico border wall on which he staked his presidential campaign, Bloomberg News reports.

As The Hill also noted, Trump's Twitter posts "won't ease the process, heightening the growing tensions between the president and the Republican leaders he needs to realize his ambitious policy agenda". Trump himself has suggested that Congress would fund the wall in the near term but that Mexico would be made to pay for it later.

The House passed a "minibus" of appropriations bills before leaving town at the end of July.

"If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won't accomplish anything", Schumer said in a statement.

Trump wants Congress to finance his controversial plan to build a "big, beautiful" wall along the US's border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants. "Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans' unacceptable poison pill riders".

Democratic congressional leaders aren't intimidated. Trump has been at odds with his party since the moment he announced his presidential candidacy.


But if Trump is going to get a tax cut and an infrastructure bill, he's going to need every Republican vote he can get.

Further complicating the task ahead is the threat of a government shutdown. If not, the government would be unable to borrow more money or pay its bills, including its debt payments.

Trump, of course, is not responsible for passing more bills than nearly any other president - at least, not bills of substance - and in fact his impact on the House and the Senate has been at best minimal, and at worst actually harmful to his own agenda.

On Thursday, the President again undercut Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, and Speaker Paul Ryan, saying they had failed to embrace his proposed manouevre to raise the debt limit by tying it to a popular veteran benefits bill. While many government functions continued, such as air traffic control and the military, much of the federal workforce was sent home, slowing the economy, stymying markets and frustrating millions of Americans.

Senate Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has put the onus of raising the debt ceiling entirely on Republicans, and has hinted on multiple occasions that Democrats will not eagerly support their Republican colleagues in raising the debt ceiling without key concessions.

Still, there's pretty good reason to believe that Congress and the White House can avoid the kind of federal shutdown that the country last endured in 2013, when it went 16 days without a budget in place. The Wall Street Journal editors seem to be under the impression that Donald Trump is some sort of unelected figure. Trump at that point owns the shutdown completely, because of his comments at the rally.

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