President Trump raised the specter of a federal government shutdown Sept. 30 if Congress refuses to hand over money to build the southern border wall that the American people have been demanding for decades.
Trump seems aware that, contrary to perceived wisdom, furloughing feds for a few days is smart politics that almost invariably benefits the Republican Party. Recent history shows that when Republicans shutter the government in Washington, they win elections.
“If we don’t get border security after many, many years of talk within the United States, I would have no problem doing a shutdown,” Trump said at the White House Monday during a joint presser with Giuseppe Conte, Italy’s new prime minister who has already gained a reputation as an immigration hardliner.
Trump praised Conte’s stance on immigration and called U.S. immigration laws a “laughingstock” and the “worst” in the world.
“And I agree very much what you’re doing with respect to migration and illegal immigration, and even legal immigration,” Trump told the Italian premier. “Italy has taken a very firm stance on the border, a stance a few countries have taken. And, frankly, you’re doing the right thing, in my opinion. And a lot of other countries in Europe should be doing it also.”
Trump urged Congress to get to work on revamping the nation’s immigration system and said he would “certainly be willing to close it down to get it done.” In addition to wall construction funding, the Trump administration wants to end chain migration and abolish the diversity green card lottery.
Ever the dealmaker, Trump refused to be pinned down by pushy reporters. Although the government will run out of money at the end of September, the president did not promise to veto a spending bill that would avert a shutdown unless it contained “full” funding for a wall with Mexico, but added, “I’ll always leave room for negotiation.”
“I have no red line, unlike President Obama,” he added. “I just want great border security.”
On Sunday morning Trump foreshadowed his Monday comments, tweeting about his willingness to let the federal government shut down:
I would be willing to “shut down” government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!
Republicans and members of Conservatism Inc. have an inordinate fear of shutdowns, which, contrary to popular belief, often benefit the Republican cause.
This all-too-familiar gutlessness was on full display on Capitol Hill, according to a report in The Hill newspaper:
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) met with Trump at the White House last week to discuss funding the government. Both men appeared to come away assured that they would be able to avoid a shutdown.
“The president’s wiling to be patient to make sure that we get what we need so we can get that done,” Ryan said of the border wall funding last Thursday.
McConnell told WHAS Radio last Friday that he believes wall funding will “probably” have to wait until after the November midterms. However, he asserted that a government shutdown is “not going to happen.”
Republican lawmakers are divided over funding the wall.
The House Appropriations Committee gave its blessing to a $5 billion appropriation for the structure in its Homeland Security spending bill last week, but the Senate spending measure provides a mere $1.6 billion dedicated only to reinforcing existing physical barriers.
Contrary to the do-nothing propaganda that endlessly dominates the media ecosystem, the shutdown won’t be unpopular. There is no risk, no political downside at all.
The Big Lie, as Dr. Steven J. Allen has shown, is that shutdowns hurt Republicans.
As a result of the 2013 shutdown over Obamacare that was blamed on Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Republicans gained in the polls.
As Allen wrote at the time: “The polls show that Republicans, on the net generic ballot for Congress, were losing ground prior to the shutdown and continued to lose ground during the shutdown… but, as soon as the shutdown was over, Republicans rose quickly, achieving an advantage in late November 2013 of between 1.14 and 2.14 points.”
And as Mark Levin noted on his syndicated radio show Monday night, he could not think of any examples of a Republican president forcing a shutdown on a Republican-controlled Congress that led to negative electoral repercussions against Republicans.
Timed right, a shutdown aimed at forcing wall funding could save Congress for the Republicans.
This article by Matthew Vadum first appeared August 1, 2018, at FrontPageMag.