Trump backs down on shutdown threat

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46609626

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AFP

US President Donald Trump is backing down on his threat to shut down the government after Democrats refused to grant him the funding to build the wall he wants on the border with Mexico.

The White House has identified other funding sources for the project, says spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

Mr Trump is seeking $5bn (£3.9bn) from Congress to start work on the wall.

Several federal agencies will shut down on Friday if Congress and the president fail to reach agreement on funding.

Mrs Sanders told Fox News on Tuesday: “We have other ways that we can get to that $5bn.

“At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border.”

She added: “There are certainly a number of different funding sources that we’ve identified that we can use, that we can couple with money that would be given through congressional appropriations that would help us get to that $5bn that the president needs in order to protect our border.”

It was not immediately clear what those alternative sources of funding were.

Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Tuesday: “The wall is not about money. The wall is about morality.”

“It’s not effective. It’s the wrong thing to do and it’s a waste of money.”

According to Bloomberg, Ms Pelosi also said the president does not have the ability to move funds around to pay for his wall without congressional approval.

Lawmakers have said they are prepared only to grant $1.6bn for border security, but that none of that money can be used for constructing a wall.

Senator Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the committee working on security spending, said Mr Trump “ought to take” the current spending bill, the New York Times reported.

He said if the administration had a “cushion” of $5bn in other funds, they should “use it to pay down the debt”.

Just before Mrs Sanders’ announcement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had tweeted at the president, saying: “No temper tantrum is going to get you the wall.”

The haggling comes as funding for the homeland security, justice, agriculture, interior and other departments is due to expire at midnight on Friday.

On Monday evening, Senate Republicans had told US media they were unaware of a plan from the White House.

Last week, Mr Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if he did not get funding for his planned wall.

That threat came as he bickered with Mr Schumer and Ms Pelosi in the Oval Office in front of reporters.

Mr Trump has previously said the wall would cost $25bn.

In March, he examined wall prototypes in California while saying some undocumented immigrants “are like professional mountain climbers”.

Democrats have been firmly against Mr Trump’s proposed wall, and in the new year, they will assume the majority in the House of Representatives.

As the fuss on Capitol Hill regarding the border wall continues, an NPR, PBS and Marist poll earlier this month found 50% of Americans believe the wall should not be a priority at all.

And 57% of all those polled felt Mr Trump should compromise in order to prevent a government gridlock.

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