Shutdown looms as Trump, GOP dig in on wall

Congress is locked in a chaotic standoff over President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE’s border wall, raising the odds of a government shutdown as the House and Senate barrel toward a midnight Friday deadline.

The funding fight was kicked back to the Senate on Thursday night after House Republicans easily approved a measure adding more than $5 billion for the border as well as disaster recovery money to a seven-week continuing resolution.

The Senate will come into session Friday at noon, giving Congress only 12 hours to prevent a partial lapse in funding as both sides dig in and ratchet up their shutdown rhetoric.


Democrats have insisted they will not back a bill providing the $5 billion for Trump’s wall, which would prevent the measure from advancing in the Senate.

Asked what comes next, an aide for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems MORE (R-Ky.) said the Senate would begin taking up the House bill on Friday.

“The Senate will receive and begin consideration of the House-passed bill tomorrow afternoon. Expedited consideration will require consent,” said David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell.

McConnell has been tight lipped about his end game. He spoke with House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.) after Trump reversed course and said he wouldn’t sign the Senate stopgap bill. But asked Thursday night about funding the government, he dodged, telling reporters only: “Merry Christmas.”

GOP senators say they were given guidance on Thursday to expect a possible vote on Friday afternoon, assuming the House was able to pass a bill. McConnell will need Democrats and all Republicans to agree to speed up votes, otherwise the funding fight automatically drags into the holiday weekend.

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSchumer wants investigation into Chinese-designed New York subway cars Getting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act MORE (D-N.Y.) expects McConnell to bring up the continuing resolution with the boost in border funding on Friday but said that it can’t pass.

“Leader McConnell has said he will schedule a vote. It will clearly not come close to getting the 60 votes that it needs,” Schumer said.

Scores of senators, both Democratic and Republican, have already left Washington, though they may return if they are needed for a critical government funding vote.

Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntHillicon Valley: Trump takes flak for not joining anti-extremism pact | Phone carriers largely end sharing of location data | Huawei pushes back on ban | Florida lawmakers demand to learn counties hacked by Russians | Feds bust 0M cybercrime group Top Republican says Senate unlikely to vote on any election security bills San Francisco becomes first city to ban facial recognition technology MORE (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said a stopgap bill with an additional $5 billion for the border wall and $700 million for border security couldn’t pass in the Senate.

“Well yeah, it can’t pass,” he said.


Without the votes to pass the bill through the Senate, lawmakers are stuck with two options: reject the House bill outright or strip out the extra border money, send it back to the House and see if conservatives and Trump cave.

Rep. Mike SimpsonMIchael (Mike) Keith SimpsonHouse passes Paycheck Fairness Act Press: Democrats dare to think big Dem chairwoman seeks watchdog probe of Park Service’s shutdown operations MORE (R-Idaho), a senior appropriator, predicted the Senate takes up the House bill, strips out the $5 billion in wall funding and then kicks the clean measure back to the House.

“I don't think it passes. Then we're in a shutdown,” he added.

A House GOP member who is close to the negotiations said that “there's a good probability that we're shutting down.”

If the partial shutdown begins, it would be the third shutdown this year, after a days-long shutdown in January and a brief closure in February.

Thursday’s rollercoaster ride represented a dramatic turnaround from Wednesday night, when the Senate passed its seven-week continuing resolution by a voice vote, senators were singing Christmas carols on the floor and GOP leadership appeared confident that Trump would sign the stopgap.

That quickly unraveled on Thursday after Trump — taking fire from conservative pundits and lawmakers for signaling he would accept a bill without extra border money — reversed course and told House lawmakers at the White House that he would not sign the bill.

Conservatives have urged Trump to double down, despite no clear path to getting wall funding, arguing he campaigned on the issue and it is crucial to his base.

“This president for two years has told this Congress that border security is a top priority. ... I totally understand his frustration,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.). “It’s time to get this done.”

Asked how both sides can come to a deal before the deadline, Perdue said senators should be prepared to work through the weekend and “stay here and let’s wrestle this thing out.”

Democrats, accusing Trump of creating “chaos” and throwing a “temper tantrum,” are poised to take back the House early next month and have warned that, if the government partially shuts down, they will wait roughly two weeks and pass a clean continuing resolution.

“It's a shame that the president who is plunging the nation into chaos is throwing another temper tantrum and is going to hurt lots of innocent people. ... It will not get him his wall,” Schumer said.

And while conservatives are clamoring for Trump to dig in ahead of the shutdown deadline, many GOP senators appeared exasperated by the chances of a partial shutdown and skeptical that it would result in a win for Trump or the party.

“It’s never good. How many times do we have to learn that?” said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem senator: Many Republicans 'privately expressed concerns' about Mueller findings Congress: Support legislation to defend Medicare home health  The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition — Trump: GOP has `clear contrast' with Dems on immigration MORE (R-Maine) after a closed-door lunch.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonBarr throws curveball into Senate GOP 'spying' probe Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems Trump Jr. subpoena spotlights GOP split over Russia probes MORE (R-Wis.) told reporters after Trump pledged that he would reject the Senate bill that “it kind of seems we’re on the path” to a partial shutdown. 

“I’m not sure what leverage the president thinks he has at this moment,” Johnson said. “I think the way you create leverage is keep this issue alive [into next year].”

Scott Wong contributed