Facing the prospect of a potential government shutdown, President Donald Trump is backing down on his insistence that an initial round of funding for the border wall be included in a must-pass congressional budget package this week.
Trump’s demand for a down payment on the wall’s construction was vigorously opposed by Democratic lawmakers, many of whom were quick to cheer their victory.
“It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement Monday evening, after reports of Trump’s decision first broke. “Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues.”
Likely fearing backlash from immigration and border-security hawks, the administration quickly suggested the president was not permanently retreating on the major campaign pledge, and would push for the funding as part of the 2018 appropriations process later this year.
“Building that wall and having it funded remains an important priority for him, but we also know that can happen later this year and into next year,” said counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway on Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning. “In the interim, you see other smart technology and other resources and tools being used toward border security.”
“The wall remains a very important priority for him,” Conway continued. “He also reminded people there’s a flow of illegal immigrants over the border, but there’s also a flow of drugs,” she said, suggesting Trump would focus on other means of border security in the interim.
President Trump’s decision to walk back his demand for funding for his most iconic campaign pledge stands in stark contrast to Obama and the Democrats’ refusal to negotiate on Obamacare fixes, which ultimately led to a government shutdown in 2013.