Two months before a funding deadline for the U.S. Government, President Donald Trump on Monday signaled that he would favor using the threat of a government shutdown to force action on tougher immigration legislation, arguing once more that the Congress needs to vote on major changes to current U.S. immigration laws, which Mr. Trump says are not tough enough.
“I would certainly be willing to consider a shutdown if we don’t get proper border security,” the President said, amplifying a tweet from earlier in the day in which he again called for action by the Congress.
In a joint news conference with the Italian Prime Minister at the White House, the President indicated he would not think twice about using the leverage of a government shutdown to force the Congress to act on legislation which would toughen U.S. immigration laws.
“I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” the President said. “It’s time we had proper border security.”
But Mr. Trump’s efforts to get changes through the Congress – an end to ‘catch and release’ of immigrants illegally entering the United States, the end of the ‘visa lottery’ program, and an end to what’s known as ‘chain migration’ – have borne little fruit.
Back in February, the Senate was unable to muster even a majority for a bill backed by the President, getting only 39 votes for a plan favored by Mr. Trump.
More recently in the House, Republicans in June failed to rally behind a pair of immigration reform bills which contained provisions backed by the President.
While it might seem like there is a lot of time to reach a deal – the House is off on an extended summer break until after Labor Day, as lawmakers there have only 11 scheduled work days between now and October 1 – when the new Fiscal Year begins.
That would seem to leave little time for action – and little time to hash out a compromise on immigration, which so far has proven elusive for President Trump.
Among Republicans in the Senate, there was not much of an embrace for the idea of a shutdown.