Trump Threatens a Shutdown That Will ‘Last for a Very Long Time’
WASHINGTON — President Trump warned early Friday that a partial government shutdown “will last for a very long time,” seeking to blame Democrats for a potential government funding lapse that he said last week he would proudly own.
“If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “House Republicans were great yesterday!”
The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2018
Hours away from a Friday midnight deadline, when funding was set to run out for a number of federal departments, the president unleashed a flurry of morning tweets as he reveled in a House vote on Thursday that passed stopgap spending legislation that would extend funding until early February, with an additional $5.7 billion to begin construction of a wall on the border with Mexico.
The legislation is expected to fail in the Senate, where Democratic votes are needed to top the 60-vote threshold. The White House announced the president will meet with Senate Republicans at 10:30 to discuss next steps. Meantime, Mr. Trump sought to pin blame for a funding lapse on the Democrats — a reversal from his vow in a combative televised Oval Office meeting earlier this month that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
House Republicans succeeded in rounding up the votes on Thursday to pass a spending bill with the president’s wall money, a potentially important step in the now-familiar shutdown blame game. Instead of Mr. Trump vetoing legislation to keep the government funded, it will now fall to Democrats in the Senate to filibuster a funding bill, stopping it from reaching the Oval Office.
The president also urged Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, to endorse the “Nuclear Option” and abolish the ability of the minority party to filibuster and delay votes over spending measures. The so-called nuclear option was used by Senate Democrats to lower the Senate threshold to 51 votes and end a Republican blockade of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. It was then extended by Senate Republicans to end possible filibusters of Supreme Court nominees.
“Mitch, use the Nuclear Option and get it done!” Mr. Trump tweeted. “Our Country is counting on you!”
Mr. McConnell has long said that there was no support for dismantling the 60-vote requirement on legislation.
If the House-passed measure fails in the Senate, which is corralling members back to Washington to convene at noon, it is unclear what prospects remain for keeping the government fully funded past midnight.
Even as Mr. Trump sneered at Democratic opposition and objections to his vision of a concrete wall at the border with Mexico (“It’s like the wheel, there is nothing better,” Mr. Trump wrote), he seemed to acknowledge that the wall funding proposal is considered doomed in the Senate chambers.
“No matter what happens today in the Senate, Republican House Members should be very proud of themselves,” Mr. Trump wrote. “They flew back to Washington from all parts of the World in order to vote for Border Security and the Wall.”
“We will get it done, one way or the other!” the president wrote in another tweet, having delayed his winter vacation to stay through the midnight deadline.
Solutions to the impasse appeared short for a disgruntled, tired legislative body that has repeatedly failed over the last two years to reach a compromise over funding for Mr. Trump’s signature campaign promise. At times, both sides have floated proposals with something for both sides, such as trading wall funding for protection from deportation for young immigrants brought illegally to the country as children. But the Dreamers-Wall deal seems to have disappeared. President Trump has offered no enticements to Democrats, nor have Democrats suggested they would give even a dollar for a wall.
Even before the House passed its own measure on Thursday, which includes close to $8 billion in disaster relief funding for natural disaster recovery, the two Democratic leaders, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, warned that they would not cave on supplying wall funding.
“It is a shame that this president, who is plunging the nation into chaos, is throwing another temper tantrum and going to hurt lots of innocent people,” Mr. Schumer said. “The Trump temper tantrum may produce a government shutdown, it will not get him his wall.”
With funding set to expire, the nine federal departments and several other agencies were beginning to ready themselves. Some agencies will have enough money in the pipeline to carry them into the new year, but thousands of government workers are expected to be furloughed or required to work through the holidays without pay.
“It’s actually part of what you do when you sign up for any public service position,” Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and chairman of the hard-line Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Thursday. “It’s not lost on me in terms of the potential hardship.”
Several House lawmakers blamed Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer for the impending shutdown, arguing that they were unwilling to compromise on border security. But with Democrats set to reclaim the House majority in two weeks, there is little motivation for Ms. Pelosi to acquiesce to the president’s demands.
In the aftermath of Mr. Trump’s insistence that he would own a government shutdown, House Democratic aides had already begun crafting legislation that would reopen the government come Jan. 3 and the swearing in of new members.
The Senate bill, Democrats argue, is a bipartisan effort that includes money for border security — but with a prohibition on any funds being used for a wall.