GOP senators emerged from the closed-door meeting in visible disbelief that President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE is refusing to sign a seven-week stopgap measure to fund the government that cleared the chamber by a voice vote less than 24 hours ago.
Senate GOP leadership appeared confident on Wednesday that Trump would sign the stopgap, which will fund approximately 25 percent of the government, as long as they kept poison pill policy riders out of it.
But Trump, under fire from conservative pundits and lawmakers, reversed course Thursday.
“No. I don’t think the votes are [there], ugh. We can’t have a government shutdown, period,” she said, when asked if there was an alternative to the Senate bill. “It’s never good. How many times do we have to learn that?”
House conservatives and Trump appear to be digging in for their demand for $5 billion for the border, a figure Democrats have rejected.
Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week CEOs urge Congress to raise debt limit or risk 'avoidable crisis' If .5 trillion 'infrastructure' bill fails, it's bye-bye for an increasingly unpopular Biden MORE (D-N.Y.) warned earlier Thursday that Democrats wouldn't budge on the border over a “temper tantrum.”
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Internal poll shows Barnes with 29-point lead in Wisconsin Democratic Senate primary Wisconsin Democratic Senate candidate facing 4 felony charges MORE (R-Wis.), asked if it looked like Congress was headed toward a partial lapse in funding, told reporters “it kind of seems we’re on the path.”
“I’m not sure what leverage the president thinks he has at this moment. I think the way you create leverage is keep this issue alive” into next year, Johnson told reporters.
House Republicans are eyeing adding $5 billion in wall funding, as well as money for disaster relief, to the Senate bill.
But Senate Republicans are skeptical that could even clear the House because of absences, much less the Senate, where it will be dead on arrival.
“Are there enough Republicans here to actually pass that CR with the border wall funding?” Johnson asked, referring to dozens of members who are absent in the House.
Scores of senators have already left town after the Senate cleared the stopgap bill Wednesday night. Johnson said that roughly a third of the 51-member Republican caucus attended a Thursday lunch and that Republicans believed most Democrats had already left town.
Johnson said he was unlikely to stay in town with members expected to get a 24-hour notice if they have to vote. Collins said she was also leaving on a plane to Maine.
Some Republicans were told of Trump's decision while they were in the closed-door GOP lunch, where a senator read out a tweet about the news. Johnson said Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse to act on debt ceiling next week White House warns GOP of serious consequences on debt ceiling Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (R-Ky.) then left the lunch to talk to Ryan.
Asked about the conversation, a spokesman for McConnell said the two GOP leaders talk almost daily and declined to provide any details of their conversation.
McConnell later sidestepped several questions about the shutdown after returning to the Capitol from a White House ceremony.
Senators and aides say they've been told to tentatively plan for a noon vote on Friday if the House is able to pass an amended government funding bill.
Not every GOP senator was as pessimistic about their chances to avoid a shutdown.
Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Kan.), asked about extra border funding, said he “would hope” they could get something through the Senate but “I just don’t know where this ends.”
Robert said he was going to the White House later Thursday for the farm bill signing and hoped to get more information there.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchCongress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears The national action imperative to achieve 30 by 30 MORE (R-Utah), told about Trump's decision, laughed and added “that's good to know."
“There are some ways,” the retiring senator said when asked about additional border funding as he got on an elevator. “[But] you’ll have to wait and see.”