Republican lawmakers on Wednesday welcomed U.S. President Donald Trump’s move away from a possible government shutdown, saying party leaders wanted “no drama” ahead of the Nov. 6 election to decide whether fellow conservatives keep hold of Congress.
House Republicans, who were leaving a closed-door party meeting, said the message from leadership was aimed at avoiding any crises before the midterm contest, an approach echoed by several Republican senators.
Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, a Republican representative with close ties to the administration, said he did not expect the federal government to shut, and that any decision on the controversial issue of funding border security would likely be delayed.
“I don’t anticipate a shutdown .... before November. I don’t anticipate a shutdown after November. I believe that we’re going to work towards trying to find border security measures that work, hopefully in the first quarter of next year,” Meadows told reporters.
“We were told no drama,” Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky conservative, said after the closed-door meeting.
According to a report published earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he was unlikely to shut down the government ahead of the election. He is scheduled to meet with Republican congressional leaders later on Wednesday at the White House.
The president has repeatedly threatened to close the government in an effort to force Congress to fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a controversial immigration plan opposed by Democrats but backed by Trump’s supporters.
The planned wall, the Trump administration’s ban on travel from several mostly Muslim countries and other immigration issues loom large as Americans prepare to head to the polls in November.
Trump campaigned heavily on a promise to build a wall that would be paid for by Mexico, which it has refused to do. He has subsequently turned to Congress to seek $25 billion for the project, along with other immigration demands.
Still, lawmakers have not reached a consensus on any immigration steps.
While a few conservatives like Representative Jim Jordan insist the border issue should be dealt with now, others seem resigned to waiting at least until the new Congress takes office in January following the election.
Trump and U.S. lawmakers averted a government shutdown in March after passing a massive $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government through Sept. 30.
A shutdown could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans for any federal government service disruptions.
“It doesn’t benefit anybody, certainly not Republicans,” Senator Jeff Flake said.
House Republicans said that while they talked about spending bills, there was no explicit discussion of Trump’s wall.
House Speaker Paul Ryan “encouraged everybody to make sure that we get through September without a lot of problems,” Representative Bill Flores said. He added that there was likely to be a continuing resolution approved to fund a small part of government while lawmakers finish their work.
Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Bernadette Baum