Government Shutdown Averted? Trump Punts On Border Wall, Will Wait Until September

In what may the flip-flop that resonates the most among his core voter base, Trump said that contrary to recent reports that the White House demands funding for Trump's proposed wall along the Mexican border be part of the spending bill - which has become a wildcard whether the government is shut on Friday night or not - Trump said on Monday that he is "open to waiting until later this year" to secure funding for said wall, a flop that would clear the way for Congress to strike a deal to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday, the WSJ reported.

As recently as Monday morning, top administration officials had indicated the president wanted to include money to begin building a wall along the Southern border in the bill needed this week to keep the government running after its current funding expires at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, which is also the president’s 100th day in office.

However, during a reception with conservative media at the White House on Monday night, when Trump also unveiled the 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber, the president addressed the issue and indicated his willingness to wait and "flexibility" whether the wall is funded in this spending bill or one that will be needed in late September.

Trump punting on the issue of wall funding will remove one of the last remaining hurdles facing congressional Democrats and Republicans hammering out the five-month bill they must pass this week to avoid a partial government shutdown.

And with the debate over the border wall effectively over for the time being, lawmakers should now be able to come to an agreement on the spending bill relatively quickly. Both Democrats and Republicans had signaled they were willing to increase money for the military and for broader border security before administration officials last week indicated that Mr. Trump would press for money to begin building the wall.

While there had been little appetite among Republicans on Capitol Hill to demand funding now for the border wall specifically, rather than offer a general boost for tighter border security, the big winners will be Democrats, whose votes will be needed to pass the spending legislation in the Senate; they had made it clear they would oppose a spending bill that included money to start building the border wall.

To be sure, Schumer was delighted:

"It’s good for the country that President Trump is taking the wall off the table in these negotiations,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said in a statement Monday night. Earlier Monday, Mr. Schumer had said the wall was a “nonstarter” for Democrats. “Now the bipartisan and bicameral negotiators can continue working on the outstanding issues,” he said.

Democratic votes will be needed, because Republicans hold just 52 seats in the Senate, where spending bills need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles. House GOP leaders will also likely have to rely on some Democratic help, since some conservative Republicans are expected to oppose it.

Republicans will also be content: many members of the GOP had indicated they would be satisfied with a spending bill that included money for means of strengthening security along the border other than a wall. “Border security’s the main issue—whether that includes a wall or technology, drones, or repairing what we have,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.) said Monday evening. Ms. Capito said she wasn’t interested in risking a shutdown over the border wall.

“I’m not going to risk a shutdown over anything,” she said.

Other Republicans echoed that their top priority was making sure they crafted a spending bill that could clear both chambers before the government runs out of money. “I wouldn’t mind funding the wall, but it’s a question of what we can do up here, what’s doable,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R., Ala.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Indeed, it seems that almost everyone is a winner except those Americans who actually believed Trump would "build that wall" as he promised on virtually every stop of his campaign tour.

Well, there is hope: he may still do it in late September. However, since the tensions between Democrats, Republicans and Trump will be the same, if not worse then making an agreement even more unlikely, please don't hold your breath.