President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government during an explosive public meeting on Tuesday over his demand of his signature campaign promise of a border wall if Democrats refuses to allocate full funding.
“I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck,” Trump told the top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office. “So, I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”
The meeting — the first time both Democrat leaders met with the president in over a year was scheduled to work out a solution to fund the government and the border wall. Funding for a border wall remains a disagreement between Trump and congressional leaders as Congress tries to hammer out a government spending package before the December 21 deadline. Trump is seeking $5 billion for the project, including physical barriers and technology along the U.S. southern border, while Democrats are only offering $1.6 billion for border security.
The 15-minute televised meeting between Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi began friendly until Pelosi sparked the fire by taking a dig at the president in her opening remarks. Vice President Mike Pence was also in attendance, watching in silence as it quickly went from zero to 100 real quick, escalating into a tense conversation that ended unclear as to whether the two sides can come to an agreement to keep the government running before the deadline.
“I think the American people recognize that we must keep the government open,” Pelosi said. “A shutdown is not worth anything, and that you should not have a Trump shutdown.”
“Did you say Trump?” the president replied. “I was going to call it a “Pelosi shutdown.”
Pelosi shot back saying Trump now has the votes in the Senate and the House to support his border wall plan.
“You have the Senate. You have the House of Representatives. You have the votes. You should pass it right now,” Pelosi said, adding that despite republicans currently hold the House majority until January, there isn’t a majority of the votes needed to fund the wall.
“I can’t get it passed in the House if it is not going to pass in the Senate,” Trump fired back. “The House we can get passed very easily. But the problem is the Senate. We need 10 Democrats to vote and and they won’t vote.”
“Nancy, we’ve gained in the Senate. Excuse me, did we win the Senate? We won the Senate,” Trump added, prompting Schumer to jumped into the fray to take a jab at the president by bringing up the recent midterm election results.
“When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble,” Schumer said.
Pelosi and Schumer both repeatedly urged Trump to take the conversation away from public view, saying it has “spiraled downward.” However, Trump didn’t budge and called the meeting “transparency.”
After the private meeting that lasted for roughly 30 minutes without cameras rolling, Schumer and Pelosi put out a brief post-meeting statement saying it is up to the president to decide one of their two options of accepting the Senate’s bipartisan agreement to spend $1.6 billion to boost border security measures, or agree to a one-year spending resolution that would keep those funded at the current level of around $1.3 billion
“We gave the president two options that would keep the government open. It’s his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down.”
Outside the West Wing, Schumer told reporters that Trump has thrown a “temper tantrum,”
“This temper tantrum that he seems to throw will not get him his wall, and it’ll hurt a lot of people, because he will cause a shutdown,” Schumer said. “He admitted he wanted to shut down. It’s hard to believe that he would want that.”
In a closed-door meeting with Democrats, Pelosi, who is seeking to become House speaker when the new Congress convenes in January insulted the president while saying that her and her fellow Democrat colleagues consider the wall “immoral, ineffective and expensive.”
“It’s like a manhood thing for him — as if manhood could ever be associated with him,” Pelosi said “This wall thing.”
The White House put out a statement shortly after the meeting saying “major disagreement remains on the issue of border security and transparency,” despite their “constructive dialogue.”
“President Trump had a constructive dialogue with Democrat Leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi,” the statement reads. “Major disagreement remains on the issue of border security and transparency. We will continue to pursue real solutions to defend our nation and uphold our laws – and hope Democrats will work with us in a bipartisan fashion to do so. A nation without borders is no nation at all.”
Congress last week temporarily averted a partial shutdown amid the funeral services for the late President George H.W. Bush, pushing the new deadline to Dec. 21. If Trump and Congress can’t agree to a funding bill by Dec. 21, large parts of the federal government will run out of operating authority.
The easiest solution for Congress to prevent a government shutdown could be to avoid the issue of border funding altogether and pass a short-term resolution to extend the rest of the federal government’s spending into next year when Democrats take over the House, a plan Trump would not agree on.