WASHINGTON (AP) - President Donald Trump stepped back Monday from demanding a down payment for his border wall in must-past spending legislation, potentially removing a major obstacle to a bipartisan deal just days ahead of a government shutdown deadline.
President Donald Trump, sitting next to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, speaks during a working lunch with ambassadors of countries on the United Nations Security Council and their spouses, Monday, April 24, 2017, in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington. Ms. Capito said she wasn't interested in risking a shutdown over the border wall. FILE - In this April 5, 2017 file photo, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of NY takes a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Trump will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, dine with Supreme Court justices, meet with the president of Argentina and travel to Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event. Congress must pass a $1 trillion catch-all spending bill to pay for all agencies of government by midnight Friday or trigger a partial shutdown the next day, which happens to coincide with the 100th day of Trump's presidency. The latest proposal doesn't include funding for construction of a U.S. -Mexico border wall, but would allo. Trump told a gathering of conservative media reporters that he might be willing to wait until September for the funding. Mulvaney said talks between Republicans and Democrats could produce an agreement as early as Sunday.
Trump campaigned throughout the country past year promising a wall across the entire 2,200 mile southern border, promising that Mexico would pay for it. "If he wants a 2,200 mile wall, I don't think he's going to get the votes to support that".
"The Republicans have the votes in the House and the Senate and the White House to keep government open. The Dems need big money to keep it going - otherwise it dies far sooner than anyone would have thought", Trump said in a Twitter post.
Trump vowed to fight for the wall.
The President tweeting on Monday: "the wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!"
But other top aides the same day focused instead on funding for the border wall - not just on border security overall.
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Meanwhile, Trump appeared poised to procure about $15 billion to boost the military. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 31/2 years to construct. After pushback from lawmakers, Trump's administration seems to have softened on that stance. The payments are a major way Democrats ensured low-income people would be covered under the Affordable Care Act, but with a new Republican administration, their future is uncertain.
The border wall spending is fiercely opposed by Democrats and also unpopular with many Republicans. Schumer, however, backpedaled on Tuesday and would no longer insist that the issue be addressed in the catchall bill and the White House sent conciliatory signals as well.
Although the White House said on Monday that another vote to repeal and replace Obama's signature health care law could not come for weeks, Trump is dangling the prospect of funding some elements of the law, which enabled millions more Americans to secure health care coverage, in exchange for Democrats' support in the spending talks.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said he suspected Trump would be "insistent on the funding" for the border wall, the White House budget director Mick Mulvaney echoed Trump's comment from a Friday interview: "We don't know yet".
The proposed changes would retain several requirements imposed by Obama's 2010 statute, including obliging insurers to cover seriously ill customers.
The plan "has real merits worthy of consideration for all the Freedom Caucus folks", said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., leader of that group. He was referring to using a procedure that would allow Republicans to win legislation without Democratic support that normally would be needed in the Senate.
Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan had to pull their "Obamacare" replacement bill off the floor last month without a vote as it became clear it would fail.