President Trump signed an $854 billion spending bill on Friday that the House and Senate had approved earlier this week, despite the fact that the bill allots a mere $1.6 billion toward his border wall, well below the $5 billion he wanted.
Trump had indicated on Wednesday that he would approve the bill, telling reporters, “We’re going to keep the government open.” The bill will keep the federal government open through Dec. 7, avoiding a government shutdown with the midterm elections on the horizon.
This is a smart decision. It would be a political disaster for Republicans if a government shutdown takes place when Republicans control every branch of government. While Republicans are already fighting off accusations that they cannot govern because they have failed to replace Obamacare, a government shutdown would add fuel to the fire Democrats hope to burn against them.
Furthermore, with midterm elections inching closer, the last thing Republicans want their name next to is a government shutdown. In previous shutdowns, each party has blamed their political opponents for causing the shutdown, but in this case, Republicans bear part of the blame for why the spending bill does not include $5 billion for the border wall. The bill on the president’s desk passed 361-61 in the House and 93-7 in the Senate.
With Trump’s signing of the spending bill, he has pushed the debate over border wall spending to December. If Republicans do well in the midterm elections, that debate will be an easy win for Republicans, since they will know their constituents favor President Trump’s policy.