Is it already time to call off the Trump vs. Schumer cage match over border wall funding?
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in an interview Tuesday on Fox that President Donald Trump is backing away from his pledge to shut down the government over border wall funding, and will instead get the money elsewhere.
“We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion,” Sanders said in an interview on Fox. “At the end of the day we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border.”
Sanders didn’t elaborate on where the money will come from and didn’t say Mexico will fund the border wall, as Trump has said on countless occasions and reiterated again Wednesday, tweeting that Mexico is “indirectly” paying for it.
“In our Country, so much money has been poured down the drain, for so many years, but when it comes to Border Security and the Military, the Democrats fight to the death,” Trump tweeted. “We won on the Military, which is being completely rebuilt. One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!
“Mexico is paying (indirectly) for the Wall through the new USMCA, the replacement for NAFTA! Far more money coming to the U.S. Because of the tremendous dangers at the Border, including large scale criminal and drug inflow, the United States Military will build the Wall!”
Last week the president sparred with top Democrats Nancy Pelosi, likely the next House Majority Leader, and Chuck Schumer, the current Senate Minority Leader, in a heated exchange in the Oval Office where Trump proudly proclaimed he would indeed shut down the government if that’s what it takes to get the border wall money.
“And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems, and drugs pouring into our country,” Trump said to Schumer. “So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.”
But Sanders’ comments Tuesday were a sharp de-escalation of the president’s rhetoric from a week ago.
“There’s certainly a number of different funding sources that we’ve identified that we can use, that we can couple with the money that would be given through congressional appropriations, that would help us get to that $5 billion that the president needs in order to protect our border,” Sanders said.
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., took exception with Sanders’ assertion in a tweet late Tuesday, saying it’s not possible to find other funding sources.
“Dear @PressSec Sarah Sanders: – US taxpayers, not Mexico, fund federal agencies. – The Executive Branch executes the law. Congress appropriates funds & write the laws. @realDonaldTrump cannot use other funds to build a wall that Congress specifically did not appropriate. Get it?” he tweeted.
Trump and Congress have until midnight Friday to reach a deal to avert a partial government shutdown that would leave about a quarter-million federal employees without pay.
The $5 billion Trump is seeking is but a fraction of the $450 billion Congress was set to approve to keep the government operating before the fight over the border wall began again.