U.S. President Donald Trump says he would "totally be willing" to partially shut down the government next week if he does not get more funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border to thwart Central American migrants from entering the country.
The U.S. leader told the Politico news site he is insisting that $5 billion for wall construction be included in measures Congress needs to approve to keep several federal agencies open after their current spending authority expires December 7.
Opposition Democrats have said they will approve $1.6 billion for the wall, leaving the two sides far apart.
"I don't do anything ... just for political gain," Trump said. "But I will tell you, politically speaking, that issue is a total winner. People look at the border, they look at the rush to the police, they look at the rock throwers and really hurting the people, the very brave border patrol folks. I think that it's a tremendous issue, but much more importantly, is really needed. So, we have to have border security."
Trump was referencing a Sunday confrontation at the border in which migrants hurled rocks at U.S. Border Patrol officers, with agents repelling the crowd with tear gas.
Even as Trump voiced his determination to win congressional approval for the $5 billion in initial funding for a wall estimated to cost more than $20 billion, he told The Washington Post in a separate interview that he could find other ways to build the wall or add more security along the border.
"I think that's been shown better than ever in the last short period of two weeks that we need a wall," Trump told the newspaper. "I see the Democrats are going to want to do something, because they understand, too. Those pictures are very bad for the Democrats. We're not having a wall because of the Democrats. We need Democrat votes to have a wall."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, leader of the current majority Republican bloc in the House of Representatives, told reporters Wednesday that after the nationwide congressional elections in early November, "hopefully ... Democrats realize that a secure border should not be a Republican thing, it shouldn't be a Democrat thing, it's just good for the country. To actually secure our border."