President Trump’s increasingly urgent push to construct a massive wall on the border with Mexico has created a nightmare scenario for congressional Republicans as they race to avert a partial shutdown of the federal government at the end of next week.
A day after Trump declared he would be proud to let funding lapse for dozens of government agencies if he does not get the money he wants for the wall, congressional Republicans signaled little appetite Wednesday to join his cause.
Some expressed befuddlement at Trump’s strategy, while others sidestepped his comments, marking a new rift between the president and his party on Capitol Hill with just weeks left at the helm of both chambers of Congress.
“I don’t understand the strategy, but maybe he’s figured it out and he’ll tell us in due course,” said John Cornyn (Tex.), the No. 2 Senate Republican. “But I don’t understand it.”
The disconnect reflects the divergent priorities of Trump and Republicans in Congress during the twilight of their two-year grip on the federal government. While Trump made the wall a signature issue in his 2016 campaign, congressional GOP leaders have displayed less enthusiasm for it.
The divide comes weeks after a difficult midterm election for the GOP, in which Democrats won control of the House. The outcome presented Trump with even longer odds of securing wall funding in the new year.