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Trump signals willingness to shut federal government over border wall funding

Staff Writer |
U.S. President Donald Trump said he would "totally be willing" to shut down the federal government if Congress doesn't approve the 5 billion U.S. dollars he's demanding for building a wall along the nation's southern border with Mexico.

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an interview with Politico released Wednesday, Trump said the funding would only cover the physical border, adding that "the number is larger for border security."

Trump has been pressuring congressional leaders to approve the funding for the border wall, a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in 2016, ahead of a deadline in December that could see a partial government shutdown.

U.S. lawmakers agreed earlier this year to fund most of the federal government in 2019, but funding for the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department, State Department and other federal agencies is set to expire on Dec. 7.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters on Tuesday that Democrats' position remains at 1.6 billion dollars for border security measures, as earmarked by a bipartisan Senate bill in July.

"If there's any shutdown, it's on President Trump's back," Schumer said. "Stick to the 1.6 billion."

Trump met with the newly-elected House Republican leadership on legislative issues, including border security, at the White House on Tuesday.

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said the president "is very solid with where he wants to go and what he needs to have a secure border."

In an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday, Trump, however, indicated that he had a backup plan if the funding fell through.

"Now, if we don't get it, will I get it done another way? I might get it done another way. There are other potential ways that I can do it," he told the newspaper.

The situation has been tense along the U.S.-Mexico border, where U.S. border officials fired tear gas on hundreds of migrants who sought to enter the United States near the southern border with Mexico on Sunday.

The chaos started as a peaceful demonstration to appeal for the U.S. authorities to speed up processing asylum claims by Central American migrants, caravans of whom have arrived in Mexican border city of Tijuana after weeks of traveling.

Trump and the White House have defended the use of tear gas but the action has drawn sharp criticism.

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