The White House is signaling that the Trump Administration will not insist that a stop gap government funding bill include money to build a wall along the border with Mexico, as negotiations continued with Congress on a plan that would avert a government shutdown on Friday night.
“If you’re actually trying to build a 2200 mile wall, it’s probably not going to happen,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), as GOP lawmakers instead suggested money could be approved for a wall, simply by lumping it into broader security upgrades along the border.
“There are a combination of efforts that will be effective along the border, including a wall in some places, and technology in other places,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“It’s basically technology and other pieces, it’s not been this been concrete wall discussion,” said Sen. James Lankford (R-OK).
As lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill from a two week Easter break, those who would favor pushing ahead on money for the border wall indicated to reporters that such a plan – on its own – seemed short on votes, especially with the threat of a government shutdown at the end of the week.
“Would I vote to fund it, yes,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “But will enough other people vote to fund it, we don’t know yet.”
“Some things just take time, and don’t occur real quick,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) on Fox Business, as he expressed confidence that the Trump Administration would win money for the wall later in the year.
But for now, the President was making clear that he was not ready for an all out fight with Congress on money for the wall, which he long said would be paid for by Mexico.
“The President’s comments this evening are welcome news given the bipartisan opposition to the wall,” said House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, as Democrats again made clear they would not help the GOP pass a spending measure with money targeted for the wall.
“Now negotiators can continue working on outstanding issues,” said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer.
The talks, which have been going on for weeks, are an effort to wrap up spending matters for the rest of the current fiscal year, with is now almost halfway finished.
As of Tuesday morning, no budget funding measure had been unveiled by Republican leaders in the Congress – as it still wasn’t clear what would be voted on this week in the House and Senate.