Aggravated at the lack of action in Congress on his calls for $5 billion in money for his border wall, President Donald Trump on Thursday raised the chances of a possible partial government shutdown on Friday night, as he told House GOP leaders that he would not accept a short term funding bill for the government unless money for his border wall is included.
“The President informed us that he will not sign the bill that came over from the Senate last evening, because of his legitimate concerns for border security,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters at the White House.
It wasn’t immediately clear what Ryan would be able to put together to get a majority in the House, as Republicans have been short on votes for border wall money in both the House and Senate.
“What we’re going to do is go back to the House and work with our members,” Ryan said outside the West Wing. “We want to keep the government open.”
“We protect nations all over the world, but Democrats are unwilling to protect our nation,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement issued after the White House meeting with Ryan and other key Republicans. “We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall.”
The change of heart by the President came after efforts by more conservative Republicans in the House to demand that he veto any funding plan which did not address border security, as GOP lawmakers argue he should use his leverage – with the threat of a veto – to get the Congress to approve such funds.
Congress has already finalized the 2019 budget for about three-quarters of the federal government, as a partial funding lapse on Friday night would impact about 800,000 federal workers.
Democrats gave no signs that they’re going to help the GOP figure out a way forward.
“Republicans are in a state of disarray,” said House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi. “We don’t know what will happen next.”
Democrats have repeatedly made very clear that they aren’t budging on the issue of border wall money – though they will approve money for border security – but not for the President’s wall.
Complicating matters for Republicans is that a number of House and Senate members are not in town, making it even more difficult to the find the votes to act on any new, substantive legislation.
On Twitter, the President made clear his disappointment with the lack of funding for his border wall.
“I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “It didn’t happen!”
The main reason that it didn’t happen was because of opposition from a number of Republican lawmakers, who disagreed strongly with the President’s rhetoric and actions on immigration.