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 TrumpMarine unit in Florida reportedly pushing to hold annual ball at Trump property Giuliani clashes with CNN's Cuomo, calls him a 'sellout' and the 'enemy' Giuliani says 'of course' he asked Ukraine to look into Biden seconds after denying it 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 SchumerSchumer, Pelosi push Trump to back universal background check bill Sinema says she would back Kennedy in race against Markey Democrats threaten to withhold defense votes over wall 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 PelosiPatagonia says to shut stores for a few hours during Global Climate Strike Overnight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Pelosi unveils signature plan to lower drug prices | Trump says it's 'great to see' plan | Progressives pushing for changes Progressives push for changes to Pelosi drug pricing plan 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 CornynZuckerberg woos Washington critics during visit Paul objection snags confirmation of former McConnell staffer GOP signals unease with Barr's gun plan MORE (R-Texas), said, “I did, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneThe Hill's Morning Report - Pompeo condemns Iran for 'act of war' while Trump moves with caution Hillicon Valley: Zuckerberg to meet with lawmakers | Big tech defends efforts against online extremism | Trump attends secretive Silicon Valley fundraiser | Omar urges Twitter to take action against Trump tweet NRA says Trump administration memo a 'non-starter' 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 ShelbyHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security House votes to avert shutdown, fund government through November Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts 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 LeahyHillicon Valley: Zuckerberg courts critics on Capitol Hill | Amazon makes climate pledge | Senate panel approves 0M for state election security Senate committee approves 0 million for state election security efforts Senate panel approves three spending bills 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.