World

Trump's shutdown threat 'dangerous'

UNITED STATES: US President Donald Trump attempted to tone down his rhetoric and called for unity in a speech at the American Legion's 99th National Convention in Reno, Nevada, on Wednesday.

It came hours after a raucous rally in Phoenix during which he lambasted the media and his political rivals, and reignited the controversy over his response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville this month, reported the Washington Post.

"We are one people, with one home and one flag," he said.

"We are not defined by the colour of our skin, the figure on our pay cheques or party of our politics."

This may be too little too late as Mr Trump faced a backlash from fellow Republicans, who rebuked him on Wednesday after his threat to shut down the US government over funding for a border wall rattled markets and cast a shadow over congressional efforts to raise the country's debt ceiling and pass spending bills.

"I do not think anyone is interested in having a shutdown," said Republican Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

He said building a wall along the country's border with Mexico to deter illegal immigration was necessary, but added that the government did not have to choose between border security and shuttering operations.

Some lawmakers, including Republicans, question if such a wall is necessary.

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Mr Trump's threat of shutdown was "dangerous for our role in the world as we are talking to nations like Afghanistan to say: 'Here is how you govern yourself'." He added it could also hurt financial markets' confidence in the US.

Congress will have about 12 working days when it returns on Sept 5 from its summer break to approve spending measures to keep the government open, while also facing a looming deadline to raise the cap on the amount the government may borrow. Both are must-approve measures.

Congress must periodically raise the debt limit to keep the US government borrowing and operating.

Credit ratings agency Fitch said on Wednesday it would review the US sovereign debt rating "with potentially negative implications" if the debt limit is not raised in a timely manner.

Friction between Republicans and Mr Trump has grown in recent months, with the latter publicly castigating some party leaders, notably Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Mr McConnell did not take a stand on the wall issue.

He said in a statement that he and Mr Trump were working together on a list of goals that included preventing a government default and funding government priorities "in the short and long terms".

A White House statement said Mr Trump and Mr McConnell "remain united on many shared priorities", including middle class tax relief, strengthening the military and constructing a southern border wall. - REUTERS

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