President Trump threatens to shutdown US government over funding for Mexican border wall
Wednesday - 23/08/2017 19:29
PRESIDENT Trump has threatened to shut down the US government over funding for his promised wall on the Mexican border as a critical deadline looms.
During a fiery 80-minute speech in Phoenix, Arizona, the President defended himself over Charlottesville comments, took aim at the media and warned he might terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to force a renegotiation.
But for market watchers, his most significant comments came around funding for his proposed wall along the border with Mexico, which is expected to cost up to US$1.6 billion.
“Build that wall. Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me if we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.
“One way or the other, we’re going to get that wall.”
The comments come ahead of a critical deadline looming for the US government which must pass a new funding bill to keep the government running after September 30. The federal debt limit will also need to be raised by mid-October to avoid a default.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has urged Congress to pass a “clean” bill to ensure the US avoids any economic shocks.
The last time a deadlock lead to a shutdown was in September 2013 under President Obama over funding for the Affordable Care Act — known as Obamacare. It cost an estimated $24 billion and saw thousands of workers sent home on furlough, leaving national parks and monuments untended.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said is “zero chance” this will happen again.
“There is zero chance — no chance — we will not raise the debt ceiling,” he said.
University of Birmingham International Politics Professor Scott Lucas said while the current situation is “completely different waters” to the 2013 shutdown, it’s made worse by a growing rift between McConnell and Trump who reportedly have not spoken in weeks.
“Trump is a figurehead President. He’s a dangerous figurehead president,” Prof Lucas said about the increasing disconnect between the White House and Congress.
“Because the political temperature is even higher you’re going to get all sort of political sparring and animosity.”
“If we run into real problems over the budget it’s going to be an absolute nightmare on both sides.”
While there is little Congressional support for Trump’s border wall plans, it’s unclear whether Democrats or Republicans will insist on certain conditions being attached to any funding bills that need to pass. Prof Lucas said Congress may be amenable to increased funding for border security such as personnel and fences but “that wall is not going to get built.”
“This whole idea of a whole new structure is not going to happen,” he said.
Tear gas used on anti-Trump protesters
Trump’s speech was met with loud cheers from his fan base inside the Phoenix venue, while protesters were teargassed in the streets outside.
The President opened his rally with a call for unity against “perpetrated hatred and violence”.
“You know where my heart is,” he told his supporters about the media. “I’m only doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are.”
Recent events in the US have earned the country a rebuke from the United Nations Committee tasked with combating racism.
Without naming President Trump, CERD Chairperson Anastasia Crickley called on the US government to investigate racial discrimination targeting minorities.
“There should be no place in the world for racist white supremacist ideas or any similar ideologies that reject the core human rights principles of human dignity and equality,” she said.
“We are alarmed by the racist demonstrations, with overtly racist slogans, chants and salutes by white nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan, promoting white supremacy and inciting racial discrimination and hatred”.