SIOUX CITY -- U.S. Rep. Steve King said Tuesday he would support a partial shutdown of the federal government if congressional negotiators fail to meet President Trump's request for $5 billion to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
As part of a stopgap bill aimed at keeping non-essential portions of the government running after midnight Friday, Democratic negotiators have repeatedly opposed Trump's demand. Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer have proposed no more than $1.6 billion outlined in a bipartisan Senate bill, with the money going for fencing upgrades and other border security, but not a wall.
Democrats also offered to simply keep funding at its current level, $1.3 billion.
In an interview at Journal offices, King, an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, said there needs to be at least $5 billion in wall funding in any compromise funding bill or he will vote against it.
White House senior adviser Stephen Miller on Sunday said, "We're going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration." Asked if that meant having a government shutdown, Miller said, "If it comes to it, absolutely."
Of Miller's comments, King said, "That has been my advice to the president."
King, who narrowly won re-election in Iowa's 4th District, added he told fellow Republicans last week that the wall funding must happen now, since Democrats will take control of the House in January after picking up 40 seats in the November elections.
"I'll be the last one to blink. This will be, this is, the last bite at a build-the-wall apple," King said.
King said Republican leaders should have not blinked earlier this fall, when there was another looming funding deadline, as the new federal fiscal year approached on Oct. 1. King said Republicans, including Trump, should have fought to fund the wall at that time, then let it become a key issue for voters to debate over the final weeks to the midterm election.
King said, "it was another kick the can down the road," with a short-term continuing resolution measure to fund the government into December.
Now, with crunch time at hand, King said he plans to fly back Wednesday for votes in Washington D.C. He is a long-time immigration policy hardliner who said the wall will stem the flow of people from the south in Mexico.
If the president and Congress fail to reach a funding deal, thousands of federal employees would be sent home without pay during the holidays.
About one-quarter of the government would be affected, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who heads the GOP deliberations, said Tuesday he doubts a shutdown will happen.
Trump was non-committal Tuesday afternoon when asked about the prospect of a shutdown of some government agencies.
“We’ll see what happens...Too early to say," Trump said to reporters at the White House.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.