Trump leaves GOP in turmoil with shutdown looming

Republicans are girding themselves for a partial government shutdown, just in time for Christmas.

The partial shutdown has grown more and more likely, they say, because of President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE’s self-defeating comments at a White House meeting with congressional Democrats earlier this week about how he would accept blame for a shutdown caused by his demands for $5 billion in wall funding.

Two days later, the GOP has no plan for keeping the government open — or for escaping blame for a partial shutdown.

“There is no discernable plan, none that’s been disclosed,” Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynSchumer feels pressure from all sides on spending strategy Data reveal big opportunity to finish the vaccine job GOP senators invite Yellen to brief them on debt ceiling expiration, inflation MORE (Texas) said when asked how President Trump and GOP leaders would avoid a shut down.

ADVERTISEMENT

GOP lawmakers are waiting on Trump to signal what kind of funding bill he’s willing to sign into law in the face of staunch Democratic opposition to spending any new money on a border wall. 

“Everybody is looking to him for a signal about what he wants to do, and so far it’s not clear,” Cornyn said of the president.  

The House held its last vote of the week Thursday and will not be back in session until Wednesday — just two days before the deadline for keeping the government open.

GOP leaders have talked about moving a funding bill that includes the $5 billion in funding for a wall. They’ve even said they believe they could get the votes for the legislation. But the fact that they have not brought a bill to the floor suggests they lack the votes, since passing the bill could give them more leverage in the fight with Democrats.

Trump at the Tuesday meeting with Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe, eyeing new GOP reinforcements GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (D-Calif.) said he could have a bill passed by the House easily. “Then do it,” Pelosi said, goading the president.

Rep. Patrick McHenryPatrick Timothy McHenryGOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Schumer sets firm deadline on bipartisan infrastructure plan On The Money: Democrats reach deal on .5T target | Biden rallies Democrats: 'We're going to get this done' MORE (R-N.C.), the chief deputy whip, asked whether the GOP would gain leverage by passing the funding bill with $5 billion in wall funding, said he wasn’t sure it was in the House GOP’s interest to send the bill to the Senate if it couldn’t get through that chamber.

“Ok, so it's December after the election. We shouldn't be here for show, we should be here to get our work done and get out of here,” he told reporters Wednesday evening. “We have to look at where we are in this process and what is the additive piece here: Is it the stay and wait or is it to take action? So those two things matter for a call like this.” 

Republicans are coming off an election in which they lost 40 seats, and their leadership is in transition.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanTrump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece Cutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce MORE (R-Wis.), who is retiring at the end of the year, has largely kept out of public view. His deputies, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyDemocrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe, eyeing new GOP reinforcements GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (R-Calif.) and Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade S.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto MORE (R-La.), aren’t always on the same page.  

Scalise announced Thursday that the House would advance a bill with Trump’s requested $5 billion for the border wall. 

But McCarthy seemed unaware of that plan, according to Bloomberg News, which reported that when asked about it, McCarthy told a reporter, “I didn’t hear him say that. ... Interesting.”    

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThis week: Senate faces infrastructure squeeze GOP seeks to make Biden synonymous with inflation Funding fight imperils National Guard ops MORE (R-Ala.) said the House’s failure to pass a bill presented a significant problem.

“That’s a central question,” he said. “We’re at an impasse and at the moment it doesn’t look like things are getting any better.”

ADVERTISEMENT

He floated the possibility of Congress passing an emergency stopgap bill funding the government until Dec. 26 or Jan. 3. He also said there is discussion about a stopgap lasting until late January or early February. 

A House GOP aide said the negotiations now are primarily between the president and Senate leaders. 

“At this point it’s really between Chuck SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE and Trump,” the source said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellS.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) is the GOP's Senate point man in talks with Trump, but he and the president disagree on tactics. 

While Trump declared Tuesday that he would be proud to shut down the government over border security, McConnell strongly wants to avoid that scenario.

“He has zero interest in going through a government shutdown,” said Sen. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoOfficials warn of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in water systems Graham, Hawley call on Judiciary Committee to hold hearing on US-Mexico border GOP senators urge Biden to keep Trump-era border restrictions MORE (R-W.Va.), the chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, said of McConnell. 

Rank-and-file Republicans are also pushing back against Trump’s threat to shut down the government.

“This is a case where I think people are putting their political interests ahead of the best interests of the American people. The best interest of the American people is for the government to function smoothly,” said Rep. Tom ColeThomas (Tom) Jeffrey ColeHere's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer Overnight Health Care: FDA adds new warning to J&J COVID-19 vaccine | WHO chief pushes back on Pfizer booster shot | Fauci defends Biden's support for recommending vaccines 'one on one' HHS spending bill advances without Hyde Amendment MORE (R-Okla.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

“I personally don’t think a government shutdown will work,” he added.

Schumer on Thursday morning declared in a Senate floor speech that Democrats won’t budge from the offer they made to Trump in the Oval Office Tuesday. 

He said Democrats will pass a yearlong stopgap bill funding the Department of Homeland Security or a measure funding all the departments and agencies covered by the seven unfinished appropriations bills. 

Both options would keep funding for border fencing at the same level Congress appropriated for fiscal 2018: $1.3 billion. 

“I want to be crystal clear. There will be no additional appropriations to pay for the border wall. It’s done,” Schumer declared on the Senate floor.

In the House, some Republicans sounded ready to try to find a compromise — and a way out.

“We need to secure our borders, I support that, I support the president, but at some point and time we need to get things done,” said Rep. Paul MitchellPaul MitchellFormer Rep. Paul Mitchell announces renal cancer diagnosis Unnamed law enforcement banned under the new NDAA Growing number of House Republicans warm to proxy voting MORE (R-Mich.).

With few bargaining chips left on the table, a lame-duck Speaker and Democrats set to retake the majority in January, House Republicans are acknowledging their colleagues across the aisle may have the upper hand. 

“Well, with the dynamic of the Senate, I think there's certainly some degree of truth there and with the change of the majority in the House, that I think gives the Democrats a little more leverage than they would have otherwise,” Rep. Dan NewhouseDaniel (Dan) Milton NewhouseBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Cheney, Kinzinger are sole GOP votes for Jan. 6 select committee Progressives nearly tank House Democrats' Capitol security bill MORE (R-Wash.) told The Hill. “I don't know if they have the upper hand, but they certainly have a more equal hand than they would have otherwise.”