Trump’s shutdown tactics borrow from the Freedom Caucus

When President Donald Trump declared last month that he was willing to risk a partial government shutdown to secure funding for a wall on the southern US border, most observers scratched their heads. Shutdowns cause significant economic and social disruptions, and those who instigate them usually lose favor among voters.

Yet Trump ignored the warnings of Senate leader Mitch McConnell and other party leaders. He refused to sign a spending bill that passed the Senate and was teed up for a vote in the GOP-led House, and even offered to take full responsibility for a shutdown. As a result, we are now in the midst of the longest government shutdown in American history.

That Trump would place such emphasis on building a border wall is not a surprise. It was a centerpiece of his presidential campaign, and he believes that failure to build it would seriously damage his standing among his core supporters who want one. But why would Trump believe that refusing to sign funding bills without money for a wall is the best strategy to get what he wants?

The answer likely lies with the House Freedom Caucus, an organized group of conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives. The caucus advocated for the shutdown — which reflects the kinds of tactics used by the group in the past — and it has developed key ties to Trump that allow its members to shape the president’s strategic decisions.

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Topics: Committees & Caucuses