GOP senator: Trump decision on shutdown may be coming soon

Greg Nash

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) says that President Trump could make a decision about how — or if — to avert a partial government shutdown as soon as later Monday. 

The Appropriations Committee chairman, after meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said they had talks about “how to resolve our dilemma,” referring to the Friday deadline to get a deal on funding for roughly 25 percent of the government. 

Shelby said he had not spoken with Trump, but that he had been told the president could make a decision as soon as Monday evening. 

{mosads}”We don’t know that. I think there’s a window. …He might be amenable to doing nothing, let it tick away,” Shelby said, asked if McConnell had told him what the president would be willing to accept on funding for the government.

Shelby added in a separate talk with reporters that the decision could be between “whether to work on some things and get a resolution this week or do a [continuing resolution] into February,” before adding there could be “other options” and there is “a lot of stuff floating around.”

“There are ongoing negotiations. Not just on the wall but other things,” Shelby added. 

Congress has a matter of days to get a deal on funding for part of the government, including the Department of Homeland Security. But Democrats and the White House are locked in a heated battle for funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. 

Trump is demanding $5 billion for the border, while Democrats have pointed to $1.3 billion as their cap and stressed that it could only apply to fencing, not a concrete wall. 

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters on Monday that the White House had not responded to their government funding offers. 

“We’re five days away from a lapse in appropriations and President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to keep the government open. In fact, the only indication he has given is that he wants a government shutdown. …President Trump does not have the votes for his wall,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. 

Trump, meanwhile, doubled down on his pitch for wall funding on Twitter earlier Monday.

Republican senators say they are largely waiting for a sign from Trump about what he would accept or if he would sign a stopgap bill to kick the fight until next year. 

Republican senators emerged from a closed-door leadership meeting in McConnell’s office on Monday evening saying they have made no decisions yet on how to prevent a partial shutdown set to begin on Saturday and don’t yet know what the president will accept. 

“I don’t know how that gets resolved, but lots of discussion,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a member of GOP leadership, said after the meeting. 

A second GOP senator said nothing was concluded during the meeting “because we’re not sure where the White House is.” 

“I think he’s playing this game until the end because he thinks that will give him a better hand. He’ll build pressure tomorrow, the next day, Thursday then at some point there’s going to be a decision,” the source added of the president. 

The senator said a funding bill would be expected to start in the House, which doesn’t return to Washington until Wednesday, and that there are multiple options on the table including a stopgap just for the Department of Homeland Security, a stopgap for all seven remaining bills through September 2019 or a weeks-long stopgap to kick the funding fight into January or early next year. 

McConnell during his floor speech on Monday said that Congress still needed to tackle “border security,” and make a “substantial investment in the integrity of our border and the safety of American families.”

Shelby added that there were “ongoing negotiations” that stretched beyond just a border wall. 

“Well unless there’s an intervening force somewhere, the deadline, the CR ends at midnight Friday. The clock is ticking,” he said when asked what he thought would happen.

—Updated at 6:55 p.m.

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Richard Shelby Roy Blunt

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