Trump Will Not Sign Senate-Passed Stopgap Funding Bill, Paul Ryan Says

Shutdown starts getting closer with no path to passage

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., seen here Wednesday at the Library of Congress, says President Donald Trump is leaving Congress on his own terms, a rarity for a speaker. (Nathan Ouellette/CQ Roll Call)

President Donald Trump has rejected a stopgap funding bill passed by the Senate, Speaker Paul D. Ryan said following a meeting at the White House. He said House GOP leaders will try to add border security to the Senate measure before a Friday night deadline.

“He will not sign this bill,” Ryan said outside the executive mansion. 

He said House GOP leaders will try to add border security to the Senate measure before a Friday night deadline, at which time Homeland Security, Justice, Interior and other departments would run out of funds and be shuttered.

“The president has informed us that he will not sign the bill that came over from the Senate last evening because of his legitimate concerns about border security,” Ryan told reporters outside the West Wing. “So what we’re going to do is go back to the House and work with our members. We want to keep the government open, but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border.”

Following a lunch-hour meeting that also included pro-border wall House conservatives, Ryan said all Republicans have “very serious concerns about securing our border.”

“The president said he will not sign this bill,” Ryan reiterated.

Congress must get something to Trump and he must sign it before 11:59 p.m. Eastern time on Friday night. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said GOP leaders “believe there’s still time” to add border funds to the Senate’s bill and avoid a partial shutdown with Christmas just five days away.

“That’s what America is asking for,” McCarthy said of securing the border, although his definition of America is open to interpretation.

“We had a great discussion with him in there,” he said, describing the lunch meeting.

Asked about the president’s mood, Rep. Mark Walker, who also attended the White House meeting,  replied: “Chipper, it’s the Christmas season.” 

Rep. Ann Wagner, a member of the Republican whip team in the House, added that disaster aid would also be part of the House package Republicans are now pushing.

“No number yet, but yes, we also plan to take care of those in Florida, in Georgia, California wildfires. Those are the kinds of things we are going to go try and fight for,” she said.

Last week, Trump threatened to trigger a partial shutdown unless he got $5 billion for the border barrier project during a rowdy Oval Office meeting with Democratic leaders. He said he would not even blame them, but instead would take the “mantle” of border security and the wall in forcing a shutdown during the holidays.

But then, just as senators began crafting a stopgap funding measure keeping those departments open until early February, Trump went silent on his intentions and thoughts on what mostly was a “clean” bill.

By Thursday morning, he was tweeting about nixing an infrastructure bill next year unless Democrats give him border wall funding and later issuing what essentially was a veto threat of the Senate’s stopgap.

Notably, the two House leaders repeatedly said they would add “border security” funding to the Senate’s bill — not specifically for the border wall. The security umbrella likely will propose funds for things like sensors, additional personnel and other tools — not just “steel slats,” as Trump has been describing his envisioned border barrier.

That could allow Republican leaders to garner just enough votes in both chambers to avert a holiday crisis.

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