If President Trump pushes for a partial shutdown of the government after the midterm elections to get money for his border wall, Democrats are confident they’ll come out on top.
Republican leaders in both chambers have signaled they’re willing to fight Democrats for the money. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they want $5 billion for the structure, more than the $1.6 billion agreed to in the Senate.
But Democrats will only entertain the proposal if Trump is willing to negotiate and include relief for recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that Trump scrapped.
“There were three [deals], and the White House has walked away from all of them,” said Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Ill. “I have no confidence that the administration can reach an agreement.”
But if Republicans stand by their demand for the money, and Democrats refuse to go along, the GOP-controlled Congress could force a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department. “Right after the election, we’re doing something very strong on the wall,” Trump said on "Fox and Friends" this week.
“I don’t believe a shutdown is anything the Republicans can brag about since they’re in charge,” said Durbin. ”It will be a further illustration of the ineptitude of this party ... I can’t believe they’d be so foolish as to think it’s a winner.”
Democrats are increasingly optimistic they’ll flip control of the House in November, giving them no incentive to concede to GOP demands.
“The side that normally loses the shutdown is the one that’s making the demand, so if they’re making the demands, then I think they’re in a pretty weak position,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. “If all we’re asking for is a continuing resolution or flat funding, I’m not sure we’ll be on the losing side of that — it’s a lot easier to hold your ground when you’re not asking for anything.”
Murphy added that he’s “skeptical” the “stars will align in a lame duck” session of Congress for a deal on border funding in exchange for protections for young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
“Anything having to do with immigration, speaking personally, the Dreamers should be a starting condition,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.
A tall border wall paid for by Mexico was one of Trump’s primary campaign promises, and if the president picks a fight over funding, Democrats intend to remind voters.
“Trump said that the border wall would be paid for by the Mexicans,” said Rep. Gerry Connelly, D-Va. “If he wants to shut down the government because U.S. taxpayers now are supposed to be paying for the wall, good luck on explaining that to the American people.”
“We’d be glad to have that debate because I’ve got you on video, rally after rally after rally,” Connelly added. “Some of us are never going to let him or the public forget that.”