President Donald Trump said Thursday that he “most likely” will not shut down the government before this November’s midterm elections over funding for his promised border wall, backing down somewhat from comments he made earlier this week hinting that he might take such a step.
Trump told Fox News’ Pete Hegseth that he likely would not insist on funding for a border wall ahead of November’s elections because he doesn’t want to harm Republicans’ electoral prospects.
“If it was up to me, I’d shut down government over border security,” Trump told Hegseth in an interview conducted live in front of a campaign rally audience in Montana. “And I guess when you get right down to it, it is up to me,” he continued, “but I don’t want to do anything to hurt us or potentially hurt us.”
Government funding runs dry on Sept. 30, and Congress has yet to send any kind of funding bill to the president’s desk.
The prospect of additional funding for Trump’s border wall has created a rift on Capitol Hill between GOP leadership, who fear that a shutdown weeks before November’s election would damage Republican candidates, and conservatives who have leveraged the threat of shutdowns in the past to win policy concessions.
Trump said he had received commitments from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to increase funding for the wall in addition to what appropriators have already agreed to provide.
“We’ll do it right after the election where hopefully, frankly, it will be easy because we have more Republicans, not less,” he said.