Two of the top House Republicans said Tuesday that President Donald Trump remains firm on requesting $5 billion for border security as part of the upcoming year-end budget negotiations.
Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 3 ranking House Republican, told reporters after a White House meeting that GOP lawmakers need to support Trump’s position and work to secure that level of funding.
“The President has been very clear that he needs $5 billion to properly secure the border,” he said. “We need to be there for him and make sure this gets signed.”
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who was at the same meeting and will lead the Republican caucus next year, said Trump has been “very strong” on the $5 billion figure, though McCarthy declined to say if that number was a red line for the President or specify whether Trump would be open to dividing funding over a two-year period, as some have proposed as a possible compromise.
“I think the President is very solid about … where he wants to go,” McCarthy said. “And he needs to have a secure border.”
The clock is ticking with funding for several government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, set to expire on December 7.
Scalise said negotiations are underway between Republicans and Democrats on securing the funding, and he insisted there was a way to resolve the matter without a government shutdown.
But he suggested it’s ultimately the Democrats’ decision whether to shut down the government over the wall funding.
“We’re going to have these negotiations and there’s a deadline. November 30 is the deadline. Democrats know that deadline as well, so they’ve got some decisions they’ll have to make,” he said.
Democrats are unlikely to agree to the President’s $5 billlion request.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters earlier Tuesday that Democrats’ position remains at $1.6 billion for border security measures agreed to by GOP and Democratic appropriators. But he wouldn’t say if Democrats are shutting the door on anything more, saying he’s not going to negotiate in public.
In an interview with The Washington Post that published Tuesday evening, Trump left the door open to finding a different solution if he can’t convince Democrats to support $5 billion for a wall.
“We need Democrat votes to have a wall,” Trump said. “Now, if we don’t get it, will I get it done another way? I might get it done another way. There are other potential ways that I can do it. You saw what we did with the military, with the barbed wire and the fencing, and various other things.”
Republicans will only control both the House and the Senate for a little while longer, until the new Democrat-led House of Representatives takes over in January. But even under Republican control, spending bills must clear a 60-vote hurdle to pass in the Senate and Republicans currently have just 51 seats, meaning any funding legislation would still need some Democratic support to pass.
This story has been updated to add additional developments.