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Trump ramps up pressure on Democrats over border wall funding

US president Donald Trump is putting fresh pressure on congressional Democrats to pay for a wall on the US-Mexico border as a funding deadline looms - even if that pressure risks a possible government shutdown.

As Mr Trump approaches the symbolic 100-day mark for his administration this week, he is juggling a renewed healthcare push with his demands that a must-pass government funding bill should include money for the wall.

Mr Trump said in a tweet that his proposed border wall would be "a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!"

Over the weekend, he jabbed at Democrats, who vigorously oppose wall funding.

"The Democrats don't want money from budget going to border wall despite the fact that it will stop drugs and very bad MS 13 gang members," the US president tweeted.

He added: "Eventually, but at a later date so we can get started early, Mexico will be paying, in some form, for the badly needed border wall."

The 100-day mark falls on Saturday, the same day the government could shut down without a budget deal.

Mr Trump has announced a rally will take place in Pennsylvania that day.

Despite Mr Trump's dismissal that the 100-day marker is "artificial", the White House has packed his schedule.

Mr Trump will sign executive orders on energy and rural policies, meet the president of Argentina and travel to Atlanta for a National Rifle Association event.

Top aides will also fan out around the country to promote the administration.

Mr Trump also plans to outline an ambitious tax cut plan on Wednesday, saying it would include a "massive" tax break for both individuals and corporations.

Aides stressed that funding for a border wall and a vote on an effort to repeal and replace former president Barack Obama's healthcare law are immediate priorities. They asserted that both still could be accomplished in the coming week.

Mr Trump would like to revive a failed effort by House Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

He also hopes to use the one trillion dollar catch-all spending bill to salvage victories on his promised border wall, a multibillion-dollar down payment on a Pentagon build-up, and perhaps a crackdown on cities which refuse to co-operate with immigration enforcement by federal authorities.

So far, negotiations have proven difficult, with disputes over the wall and health law subsidies to help low-income people afford health insurance.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California described a border wall as "immoral" and "expensive" when asked if there was any scenario in which Democrats would agree to money for a wall.

"Democrats do not support the wall," she said, speaking on NBC. "Republicans on the border states do not support the wall."

Ms Pelosi noted that when Mr Trump promised to build a wall during the presidential campaign, he did not indicate he would "pass billions of dollars of cost of the wall onto the taxpayer".

With Republicans now controlling Congress and the White House, she said, the burden to keep government open "is on Republicans".

Mr Trump has repeatedly asserted that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is necessary to stop the flow of immigrants crossing the border illegally, as well as drug smugglers.

AP

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