Politics

Trump Rages Over Border Wall, Sees Shutdown for ‘Very Long Time’

‘Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall,’ Democratic senator tweets

President Donald Trump made clear Friday morning he is dug in over his demand for border wall funding, making a partial government shutdown likely. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images file photo)

Donald Trump, just hours before a handful of federal agencies will close, urged Senate Republicans to“fight” for his southern border wall and predicted a likely government shutdown “will last for a very long time.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “will need Democrat votes, but as shown in the House, good things happen,” wrote a president lurching from crisis to crisis even though Senate Democrats are united against the wall. “If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown! House Republicans were great yesterday!”

Trump grew more and more blunt in a morning Twitter rant, at one point essentially telling his millions of followers that a partial government shutdown over Christmas is likely: "Shutdown today if Democrats do not vote for Border Security!"

Trump returned to Twitter to urge McConnell to call a vote on changing the Senate’s rules to lower the threshold on legislation to 51 votes and thank Senate Appropriations member Steve Daines for floating the idea on Thursday. But McConnell has long opposed that change — and it’s unclear if enough GOP senators do.

The president wants McConnell to find a way to pass a spending measure to keep the Homeland Security, Interior, Agriculture and other departments open beyond 11:59 p.m. EST Friday. That measure, at Trump’s behest, includes $5.7 billion for “border security,” meaning his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The House-passed bill will be up for consideration in the Senate Friday, but it needs 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle. Republicans control only 51 seats, meaning nearly 10 Democrats would have to break ranks and vote to give Trump his wall funding.

‘We’re Punctual People, We’re On Time,’ Senate Carolers and Holiday Shutdown Showdown: Congressional Hits and Misses

[Ahead of Shutdown, GOP Senator Floats ‘Nuclear’ Option to Build Trump’s Border Wall]

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Thursday evening called House GOP leaders’ decision to give into the president’s demands and add the wall funds onto a Senate-passed stopgap spending measure that excluded any border barrier dollars “cynical” because they know the wall-including version cannot garner the required 60 votes in the other chamber.

Trump and his staff also appear to agree with Schumer’s back-of-the-envelope whip count: He was scheduled to leave the White House Friday afternoon for a 16-day holiday vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. But his public schedule for Friday released by the White House does not include him heading to the Sunshine State, a sign he is taking a bunker mentality for what likely will be another wild day as Washington careens toward a partial government shutdown that will leave more than 800,000 workers in limbo with Christmas just a few days away.

A senior White House official on Thursday was unable to explain to Roll Call what is Trump’s Plan B after lurching the country toward a Christmas crisis. It appears a partial shutdown is the only alternative — unless the House strips out the border wall funds and disaster relief monies that also were tacked onto the Senate bill, and Trump decides to sign it and delay the border fight until early February.

“Fight” was the operative word in Trump’s first Friday morning tweet. Conservatives on Fox News and other rightward-leaning media outlets spent much of the week hammering him for what they detected was his coming cave on his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding this year.

As late as Wednesday evening, White House aides were giving no indication their boss might veto the Senate’s spending measure or demand the House amend it. Many senators caught flights home after the chamber finished its pre-holiday work — and now they’re scurrying back to the Capitol for Friday’s vote on the House’s version and whatever else might be cooked up in an attempt to get Trump’s signature and avert a shutdown.

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz tweeted a picture of a palm tree from his home state Wednesday at 8:08 p.m. EST with this text: “IAD-HNL- IAD” - the airport codes for Dulles International Airport and Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

At 7:08 a.m. (ET) Friday, he tweeted this from Dulles: “Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall.”

Despite the Democrat’s mocking scorn, the president woke up ready to, in his word, “fight.”

“The Democrats are trying to belittle the concept of a Wall, calling it old fashioned. The fact is there is nothing else’s that will work, and that has been true for thousands of years. It’s like the wheel, there is nothing better,” Trump said, revealing his black-and-white thinking on the matter.

In another tweet, the president repeated his contention - without supplying evidence other than barriers in Israel - that walls are “99.9% successful.

[House Foreign Affairs Eyes New Subcommittee to Investigate Trump]

Trump lurched toward his base started Wednesday morning when he abruptly ordered the Pentagon to start removing all U.S. military troops from Syria. That prompted the resignation Thursday of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who made his disgust with Trump’s treatment of allies and leniency toward strongmen apparent in a resignation letter he ordered his aides to release.

But Trump seems undeterred by the retired Marine Corps general’s coming departure under essential protest of his foreign policy approach. He made clear in yet another tweet that he expects a partial shutdown on Friday night, and gave no indication he’s going to negotiate a bipartisan deal to avoid one.

“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,” he wrote.

Instead of negotiating, he again pivoted toward his base, which is much more reflected in the House Republican caucus than the Senate GOP conference. He tweeted what amounted to an “atta boy” to House Republicans for voting for border wall funding even though a partial shutdown likely will be blamed by the public on he and Republicans.

“No matter what happens today in the Senate, Republican House Members should be very proud of themselves,” Trump tweeted. “Not one Democrat voted yes, and we won big. I am very proud of you!”

What Really Happens During a Government Shutdown, Explained

 

 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.