Washington: With a budget deadline looming, President Donald Trump plans a whirlwind of activities seeking to highlight accomplishments while putting fresh pressure on congressional Democrats to pay for a wall on the US-Mexico border, even if that pressure risks a possible government shutdown.
Mr Trump approaches the symbolic 100-day mark for his administration this coming week juggling a renewed health care push and his demands that a must-pass government funding bill should include money for the wall.
In a tweet on Monday, Mr Trump said his proposed border wall would be “a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” Over the weekend, he jabbed at Democrats, who vigorously oppose wall funding.
“The Democrats don’t want money from Budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members,” the President tweeted on Sunday.
He added: “Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall.”
The 100-day mark falls on Saturday, the same day government could shut down without a budget deal. Trump has announced a rally in Pennsylvania that day.
Despite Mr Trump’s dismissal that the 100-day marker is “artificial,” the White House has packed his schedule. Mr Trump will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, meet with the President of Argentina and travel to Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event. Top aides will also fan out around the country to promote the administration.
Mr Trump also plans to outline an ambitious tax cut plan on Wednesday, telling the Associated Press last week that it would include a “massive” tax break for both individuals and corporations.
Aides stressed on Sunday talk shows that funding for a border wall and a vote on an effort to repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s health care law were im-mediate priorities. They asserted that both still could be accomplished in the coming week.
“I don’t think anyone foresees or expects or would want a shutdown,” said Budget director Mick Mulvaney on “Fox News yesterday”.
Mr Trump would like to revive a failed effort by House Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.”
He also hopes to use the $1 trillion catchall spending bill to salvage victories on his promised border wall, a multibillion-dollar down payment on a Pentagon buildup, and perhaps a crackdown on cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration enforcement by federal authorities.
So far, negotiations have proven difficult, with disputes over the wall and health law subsidies to help low-income people afford health insurance. House members received little information from leaders on a conference call this past Saturday.
White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said on NBC’s Meet the Press that he’s confident the spending bill will include something “satisfactory” to reflect Mr Trump’s desire to build a wall. The legislation would keep the government running through September 30, the end of the fiscal 2017 budget year.