WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he would “totally be willing” to shut down the federal government unless Congress authorized $5 billion to fund his long-promised border wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico, according to a Politico interview released on Wednesday.
Speaking to the news outlet at the White House on Tuesday, Trump also said the $5 billion (4 billion pounds) request was just to build the physical barrier, and that additional funding would be needed for border security.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump in a separate interview with the Washington Post hinted that he could avoid a government shutdown and still build his wall by utilizing the U.S. military, which he had deployed to the U.S-Mexico border last month to install barbed wire and fencing.
U.S. lawmakers must act to pass a spending bill by Dec. 7 to fund some government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security that oversees the border and immigration.
Trump has previously threatened to shut down the U.S. government over the border wall funding but has not followed through.
His comments to Politico and the Post came amid a White House meeting on Tuesday with House Republicans, who control the chamber until Democrats take over in January. Trump’s fellow Republicans also control the Senate and will maintain their hold next year.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Chizu Nomiyama)