WASHINGTON — Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Saturday that he believes President Donald Trump “will be insistent” that lawmakers include money for a US-Mexico border wall in a spending bill that they need to pass by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.
In a pre-taped interview with CNN’s Dana Bash on “The State of the Union,” which will air in full on Sunday, Kelly said he’s confident Trump will “do the right thing.”
“I think it goes without saying that the President has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall,” he told Bash. “So I would suspect he’ll do the right thing for sure.”
Kelly said he thought Trump “will be insistent on the funding” for the wall, a lingering question ahead of the spending battle lawmakers face as they work this week to keep the government’s lights on past Friday.
But a senior administration official told CNN on Saturday that the White House would not let the government shut down over the issue.
“The White House is not going to allow the government to shut down,” the official said. “We’ve been clear about what our priorities are. Leadership in both chambers understands that.”
Kelly also commented on the timing of the wall’s construction Friday.
“We hope to begin construction by the end of the summer,” he told CNN’s Kate Bolduan on “At This Hour.” “Clearly, we’re not going to build a wall in an afternoon.”
During a tour of the border last week, Kelly and Attorney General Jeff Sessions met Thursday with law enforcement personnel from several federal agencies at a federal building in El Paso, Texas, which includes immigration courts and is blocks away from a detention facility.
Kelly said he spoke with local and state lawmakers willing to share their views on the best way to build the wall.
Putting up a wall along the US-Mexico border was one of Trump’s key campaign promises, and he issued an executive order in January directing that construction begin.
The Trump administration has already asked Congress for money to start building the wall, but Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other top Democrats oppose the wall and say adding any money to the spending bill for it is a nonstarter.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has said he believes the Trump administration and Republican leaders in Congress will be able to avert a government shutdown.
“We have our list of priorities,” Mulvaney said Thursday at an event hosted by the Institute of International Finance, according to The Washington Post. “We want more money for defense. We want to build a border wall. We want more money for immigration enforcement, law enforcement.”
Mulvaney told reporters Friday, “I do not think the government is going to shut down.”