Trump Backs Off Gov’t Shutdown Threat Ahead of Elections

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

President Donald Trump said he was unlikely to shut down the federal government ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm elections over funding the construction of a southern border wall as part of his controversial immigration plan, according to a report published on Wednesday.

Trump has repeatedly threatened to close the government in an effort to force Congress to fund the wall along the border with Mexico, a move opposed by Democrats but backed by his supporters.

He is scheduled to meet with Republican congressional leaders later on Wednesday at the White House.

“I don’t like the idea of shutdowns,” Trump told the Daily Caller in an interview conducted on Tuesday. “I don’t see even myself or anybody else closing down the country right now.”

Trump campaigned heavily on immigration issues, including a promise to build the wall paid for by Mexico – which it has refused to do. Instead, he has turned to Congress, seeking $25 billion for the project along with other immigration demands.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress, with a narrow majority in the Senate, but have failed to garner enough Democratic support to pass any major immigration legislation. Disagreements between moderate and conservative Republicans have also stalled the issue, which looms large as Americans prepare to head to the polls in November.

Any disruption in federal government operations could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans for any service interruptions.

“I think that after midterms, we’re going to have a very serious discussion because we want border security. We have to have it,” Trump told the Daily Caller.

Trump and U.S. lawmakers averted a government shutdown in March after passing a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill.