On Monday they contacted the White House, asking that the president back off his threat of a partial shutdown if he doesn’t get funding for his border wall. If he doesn’t, hundreds of thousands of federal workers will stop receiving paychecks by the end of this week.
Sulking in the White House, Trump is saying that he won’t support even stopgap measures to keep federal government operations running for a week or two. He apparently believes this is his time to make a stand, and to get what he wants, no matter what the cost.
He and his advisers know that when Democrats take control of the House next month he will have even less chance of getting the funding he wants. At least now, for a short while longer, Republicans are in control.
Trump apparently has been receiving support from federal Border Patrol agents. Their union leader recently told him that the agents would back a wall-induced shutdown.
Congressional Republicans really want to avoid a shutdown but they have no idea whether Trump will end up supporting at least one alternative to resolve the dispute. If he doesn’t, 800,000 federal workers will be furloughed or forced to work without pay in a partial shutdown.
After meeting with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer last Tuesday, Trump proudly claimed that he would own the shutdown. And Republicans are not happy about it. A shutdown would be a political disaster for them.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.), who has been critical of Trump’s shutdown tactics, said:
“How are we going to get out of it? Well, I think that should factor into people’s calculations. Because it’s not going to get any better in January.”
After he met with other Senate Republican leaders last night Cornyn said that “if there is” a plan to avoid a shutdown, “I’m not aware of it.”
And neither is anyone else. Including the president.
Trump has reportedly been saying privately that he is frustrated that he doesn’t have more leverage in the fight for border wall funding.
White House advisers are telling people that a shutdown is unlikely. They say that the White House plan is to not shut down the government.
“He’s not going to get $5 billion for the wall,” one adviser said. “They can say on TV all they want that it’s going to happen, but it’s not going to happen.”
But senior adviser Stephen Miller went on TV on Sunday taking a hard-line position on immigration, and threatening a shutdown, increasing fears that the president would not compromise.
House Republicans have tried to approve $5 billion for a border wall as Trump has demanded. But the GOP leaders there had to tell the president that they don’t have enough votes to pass a bill for wall funding. And Pelosi and Schumer have also told him he is not going to get his wall money.
The Democratic leaders have become very firm in their resolve to deny Trump the additional border security money that he wants. They are very confident that they will not be blamed for a government shutdown. And they have stopped talking to Trump and his advisers about the issue.
Pelosi and Schumer have given Trump two options that they say can get through Congress:
- Funding the parts of the government that are at risk of a shutdown at current spending levels through the end of the fiscal year, or
- Full funding for all the relevant federal agencies except the Department of Homeland Security, which would operate on a one-year “continuing resolution.”
Schumer has not been complimentary of the president’s negotiating tactics.
“His temper tantrum will get him a shutdown,” Schumer said yesterday. “But it will not get him the wall.”