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 TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes 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 SchumerOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Chad Wolf becomes acting DHS secretary Schumer blocks drug pricing measure during Senate fight, seeking larger action 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 PelosiOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Speaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings 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 CornynGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Overnight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Senate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges MORE (R-Texas), said, “I did, unfortunately. I wish I didn’t.”

Senate Republican Conference Chairman John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump 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 ShelbyWhite House prepared to support December CR On The Money: Trump seeks to shift spotlight from impeachment to economy | Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline | New study says tariffs threaten 1.5M jobs Appropriators agree to Dec. 20 funding deadline 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 LeahyCongress hunts for path out of spending stalemate This week: House kicks off public phase of impeachment inquiry Senators press NSA official over shuttered phone surveillance program 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.