Senators dumbfounded by Trump vow to shut down government

Senior senators on both sides of the aisle where left dumbfounded on Tuesday by President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE’s fiery threat to partially shut down the government unless he gets the money he wants for a border wall, which is unlikely.

Republican leaders have spent weeks trying to steer the president away from a government shutdown, but all that work went out the window earlier in the day when Trump declared in front of television cameras that he would be “proud” to shut down the government over border security.

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“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country,” Trump told Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (N.Y.) while cameras were still in the room before a scheduled meeting.

“I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it,” Trump said to Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Trump-Pelosi fight threatens drug pricing talks MORE (Calif.), who was also in the room.

The frank moment left Democratic and Republican leaders stunned.

“The president showed what he really thinks. He wants to shut down the government,” Schumer said upon arriving back at the Capitol.

Asked if he expected that reaction, Schumer said, “No, we were not expecting it.”

GOP leaders were left cringing by Trump’s vow to take responsibility for a partial shutdown and his promise not to blame Democrats.

Asked if he had seen the exchange on television, Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Bipartisan House bill calls for strategy to protect 5G networks from foreign threats Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' MORE (R-Texas), said, “I did, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senate passes anti-robocall bill MORE (S.D.) threw up his hands when asked about his reaction.

“I heard it was very entertaining television,” he said.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan On The Money: Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump | Trump to offer B aid package for farmers | House votes to boost retirement savings | Study says new tariffs to double costs for consumers Senate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump MORE (R-Ala.), who urged the president in a private meeting before Thanksgiving not to shut down federal agencies over the border wall, said he would have handled it differently.

“I’ve never said that myself. I’m always trying to work to fund the government,” he said.

Shelby said Trump’s comments heightening the likelihood of a shutdown.

“I think it’s a step in that direction, obviously, at least [with] the rhetoric,” he said.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (Vt.), the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said he’s never seen a spat play out so publicly at a senior-level White House meeting during all his years in Congress.

“I’ve only been here with eight presidents,” said Leahy, who was elected to the Senate in 1974.

“Somehow he’s made up his mind that it will make him look good to have a Trump shutdown, but a Trump shutdown costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, creates havoc and does nothing for border security,” he added.