Published: Tue, April 25, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

As budget deadline looms, Trump pushes border wall funding

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that he believes President Donald Trump "will be insistent" that lawmakers include money for a US-Mexico border wall in a spending bill that they need to pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

On Friday night, the funding measure lawmakers approved a year ago to keep the federal government running will expire.

A Republican congressional aide said Democrats may agree to some aspects of the border wall, including new surveillance equipment and access roads, estimated to cost around $380 million.

Trump on Sunday criticized Democrats, saying they don't want money going to the wall even though it will "stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members".

Trump has repeatedly asserted that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is necessary to stop the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally as well as drug smugglers.

On Saturday, Trump will hold a major rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as a sort of cap of those first 100 days.

Despite Mr Trump's dismissal that the 100-day marker is "artificial", the White House has packed his schedule.

Trump's also planning to announce at least the broad parameters of a tax overhaul on Wednesday that seems sure to have plenty to annoy Democrats, including likely tax cuts for corporations and high-earners. Both Democratic and Republican leaders say they are successfully navigating the sinkholes that come with such a spending debate. Negotiations have faltered because of disputes over the border wall and health law subsidies to help low-income people afford health insurance.

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney has said the administration is prepared to make concessions to Democrats on health care reform in order to get the wall money.

"We're going to get it paid for one way or the other", Sessions told ABC's "This Week", referencing a Treasury Department watchdog report during the Obama administration that said excess payments of about $4 billion a year were going to people that shouldn't get them, and he said reining in the problem could lead to savings over time that could pay for the wall.

Democrats vow? Good for them, and it's a crucial piece of blocking border wall billions, but that's not all that's going on here.

During the campaign trail, President Trump promised to abolish Obamacare, increase military spending, confirm a new appointment in the Supreme Court, slash corporate tax, increase military spending, issue a Muslim immigration ban, and begin building The Wall.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said on CNN's "State of the Union" that a shutdown over the wall funding, which Trump had promised Mexico would pay for, would be a poor political stunt.

In an ideal world, a second attempt would succeed this week before Trump's 100th day in office, providing him with a concrete legislative achievement during the first three months of his presidency.

In a conference call with Republican members over the weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin made it clear that while work on health care continues, the focus of the coming week will be on keeping the government open.

The OMB Director told the Associated Press on Thursday "we want wall funding".

The healthcare law was former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature domestic policy achievement, which Republicans are trying to repeal and replace.

"I don't think we'll have a shutdown".

Mr. Sessions said Mr. Trump would decide whether the wall money was worth the risk of a government shutdown.

"I am an appropriator and I know that our appropriators try very hard to work in a bipartisan way", Pelosi said, adding that leaders of the spending committees were on just that "path. before the president intervened". He's flouted conventions of the institution by holding on to his business, hiring family members as advisers and refusing to release his tax returns.

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