- A partial government shutdown appears more likely after a new poll found Americans sharply divided on President Trump’s immigration policy.
- Among the poll’s key findings: 57 percent of Americans want Trump to compromise on border wall funding, but two-thirds of Republicans want him to stand firm even if it means a shutdown.
- At a meeting with Democratic minority leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
The U.S. government could be headed for a shutdown next week.
That, at least, seems more likely this week after a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found Americans sharply divided on President Trump’s immigration policy, with 52 percent disapproving and 44 percent approving.
The same day, Trump met with House and Senate Minority Leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to negotiate an agreement to fund the government before key departments and agencies shut down on Dec. 21.
At stake was how much money, if any, will be appropriated for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump is seeking $5 billion, but Pelosi and Schumer are offering $1.38 billion for fencing and border security in general. The two sides seemed to be at an impasse, as Trump told Schumer he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
“I will take the mantle,” the president continued. “I will be the one to shut it down — I’m not going to blame you for it.”
With reference to the border wall and government spending bill specifically, the poll found Americans think the president should compromise on the wall to avoid a shutdown by a 21-point margin: 57 percent to 36 percent.
That figure may not weigh too heavily in the Trump’s mind, however, given that among Republican respondents, nearly two-thirds would like to see him stand firm on securing funding a border wall even if it means a government shutdown.
Not surprisingly, a similar contrast appeared in the poll when respondents were asked whether the wall should be an “immediate priority” for Congress. Only 28 percent agreed, but that included 63 percent of Republicans.
Indeed, assuming respondents who identified as Republican make up the bulk of Trump’s voter base, he has a powerful incentive to stand firm even if it leads to a shutdown. Building the wall was one of the central promises of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and 91 percent of Republicans currently back the president on his handling of immigration, the poll found.
As if to emphasize the support of Trump’s base, the Conservative Action Project released a memo today urging the president to stand firm on his demand for $5 billion to fund the wall. It was signed by a range of conservative policy leaders and activists.
“American sovereignty and national security are at risk the longer Congress delays in addressing the crisis at the border,” the memo said. “President Trump has used all of his authorities to mitigate illegal entry, but only Congress has the authority to fund the border wall. After two years of inaction on Capitol Hill, we support the urgency of President Trump’s request.”
The one area in which Trump does enjoy majority support among Americans more broadly is his handling of the protection of U.S. borders, which 53 percent of respondents said they approve (versus 43 percent who said they did not approve). Trump’s approval rating dropped by more than 10 points, however, when Americans were asked about his handling of specific issues like the migrant caravan and undocumented immigrants already in this country.
Given this disparity between Republican respondents and public opinion more broadly on immigration issues, it may be a challenge for Trump to unify his own party in his fight for a border wall, much less gain concessions from Democrats.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, for example, said in a recent call with reporters that a shutdown doesn’t make sense, though he didn’t stake out a position on the wall funding.
“Well, we’ve seen that movie before,” Cornyn said, according to Texas Monthly. “Shutting down the government doesn’t solve the problem because at some point, you need to re-open the government and then you still have the same problem staring you in the face. So I hope that cooler heads will prevail.”
View the detailed results of the poll here. It was conducted from Nov. 28-Dec. 4, surveyed 1,075 adults, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percent.
Image Credit: “Trump on the South Lawn, White House” by The Epoch Times is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Andrew Collins cut his teeth in politics as a congressional campaign staffer during the 2012 election. Since then he has worked in Washington, D.C. as the digital media manager and as a staff writer at the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity, and is a recent graduate of the Trinity Fellows Academy (class of ’17). His work has appeared in Politico, US News & World Report, The Chicago Tribune, The Daily Caller, and The Hill. He lives in Seattle, WA.