Trump backs away from demand for border wall money

Trump backs away from demand for border wall money

The negotiations over the spending bill took center stage despite a separate White House push for fast action to revive health care legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Despite Trump's dismissal that the 100-day marker is "artificial", the White House is planning a packed week of activities leading up to Saturday. With little to show in legislative victories so far, the Trump administration would love to claim achievements on Capitol Hill by that day - this Saturday. Even though Republicans now control both chambers of Congress and the White House the dynamics are not all that different, given Democrats still have leverage and Republicans fear that as the party in charge, they would shoulder the blame from any shutdown.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer refused to say whether or not border wall funding was a prerequisite.

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A funding bill will need 60 votes to clear the 100-member Senate, where Republicans hold 52 seats, meaning at least some Democrats will have to get behind it.

Democratic leaders said Monday that President Donald Trump's insistence on the border wall in the budget has "thrown a monkey wrench" in negotiations to reach a deal by Friday that would head off a government shutdown.

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The White House had confirmed that Trump said at a reception with conservative journalists on Monday that he might be willing to seek funding for his signature wall again in the spending debates at the end of the current fiscal year. "And, it's a whole lot more art and balance than it is science", one Republican senator said noting that it will be imperative to watch the administration over the next few days.

Nonetheless, Trump tweeted Tuesday, "Don't let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. If. the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!"

"The Democrats do not support the wall", House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told NBC's "Meet the Press".

With the Democrats and Republicans preparing for budget negotiations this week, President Donald Trump has also expressed his confidence that Mexico will "eventually" pay for the border wall.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY, who has a key role providing Democratic votes to pass the legislation, welcomed Trump's reported shift on the wall. Both Democratic leaders had criticized Trump earlier Monday.

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Trump has said Mexico will eventually repay the United States for the wall, but the Mexican government has been adamant it will not do so, and Trump has not laid out a plan to compel it.

A Republican congressional aide said over the weekend that Democrats may agree to some aspects of the border wall, including new surveillance equipment and access roads, estimated to cost around $380 million.

Failure to approve a government funding bill could throw new doubts over Republicans' ability to fashion a budget blueprint for the fiscal year that starts on October 1 or to succeed in a major effort to cut corporate and individual taxes that Trump has touted.

Separately, the White House and congressional Republicans are gauging whether a plan to revise the GOP's stalled health care bill would garner enough converts to rekindle hopes for House passage of the legislation. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C. and head of the conservative Freedom Caucus and Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. and co-chair of the centrist Tuesday Group, are working to bridge the gap between the conservative and moderate Republicans to help amass 216 Republican House votes in support of a compromise.

But states could obtain federal waivers to some of those requirements.

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Supporters say the proposal is significant because it would retain guaranteed coverage for people with costly illnesses.

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