House Speaker Paul Ryan on Monday promised a “big fight” over border wall funding after midterm elections as part of a commitment he made to President Donald Trump.
Ryan said he and others in Congress did not think a funding fight made sense ahead of the midterms. Trump wants three times the $1.6 billion Congress has tentatively agreed to provide this year for the border wall with Mexico. The president threatened to force a shutdown over the issue, but instead signed legislation funding some parts of the government through Dec. 7.
“What the president wants to do is get a bigger down payment so it can be built faster,” Ryan said in a speech at the National Press Club.
“We intend on having a full-fledged discussion about how to complete this mission of securing our border and we will have a big fight about it,” Ryan said.
A bill being considered in the Senate allocates $1.6 billion for Trump’s wall, far short of the $5 billion Trump is seeking. A bill approved by a House committee includes $5 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the U.S. southern border.
Asked if he made a commitment to Trump for a shutdown over wall funds, Ryan said the blame would fall to Democrats, who are in the minority in Congress and largely oppose increased funding for the wall.
“We have a commitment to go fight for securing the border and getting these policy objectives achieved,” Ryan said.
Legislation that Trump signed in September funded more than 70 percent of the government through the fall of 2019. But funding for some agencies was only extended to Dec. 7, including for the Department of Homeland Security, which would be tasked with building the wall.
Talk of a partial government shutdown over the divisive immigration issue punctuated an otherwise upbeat talk from Ryan on the GOP’s accomplishments as he made the case for his party in the November election.
The speaker pointed to tax cuts, bolstered defense spending and efforts to curtail opioid addiction and human trafficking as top achievements in the Republican-led House. He called them “big things we have delivered, big promises we have kept.”