Trump shutdown moves leave GOP senators in disbelief

GOP senators emerged from the closed-door meeting in visible disbelief that President TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' 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. 

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“Are you ruining my life?” GOP Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Energy: Perry to step down as Energy secretary | Future of big-game hunting council up in the air | Dems lose vote against EPA power plant rule Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pence says Turkey agrees to ceasefire | Senators vow to move forward with Turkey sanctions | Mulvaney walks back comments tying Ukraine aid to 2016 probe On The Money: Senate fails to override Trump veto over border emergency | Trump resort to host G-7 next year | Senators to push Turkey sanctions despite ceasefire | McConnell tees up funding votes MORE (Maine) joked to The Hill when told about the decision.

“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 SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTurkey says soldier killed despite cease-fire in Syria Schumer calls for FDA to probe reports of contaminated baby food How Trump and Pelosi went from bad to worse 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 JohnsonAmbassador Gordon Sondland arrives on Capitol Hill for testimony in impeachment inquiry GOP cautions Graham against hauling Biden before Senate Sondland could provide more clues on Ukraine controversy 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. 

 
"Well, why not?" he quipped, asked why he was laughing, adding that he was "not really" surprised by Trump's decision. 
 
"On this? I don't know. Y'all have fun. I'm getting ready to fly to Chattanooga.  ...[Leadership] has no guidance right now," Corker said, asked what happened next. "I think they're just sort of swirling around over there at the White House." 
 
Asked if he thought the continuing resolution (CR) could still be signed, Corker added that it's impossible to predict what Trump will do. 
 
"I don't know. ... Who knows. Does the person sitting behind him at the White House know? Who would know? Who would know," Corker said. "I love it, you can't make this stuff up." 

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 McConnellTurkey sanctions face possible wall in GOP Senate Fox's Wallace says 'well-connected' Republican told him there's a 20 percent chance GOP will vote for impeachment White House staggers after tumultuous 48 hours 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.

 

Asked if McConnell believed Trump was determined to shut down the government, he said "well we just had a good signing ceremony for the farm bill." 
 
Asked if he was still confident there wouldn't be a shutdown starting on Saturday or if he was discouraged, he added: "The action is over on the House side."
 
 
"I think it's all very fluid and you know the president may change his mind—a couple of times," he said. "The worst possible politics are shutdown politics. The only thing worse than shutdown politics might be shutdown politics at Christmas." 

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 RobertsJeffress dismisses evangelical opposition to Trump's Syria decision: Not one will 'switch their vote' Overnight Defense: Trump defends Turkey amid fierce criticism | Senators demand briefing on Syria decision | Turkey confirms strikes on Syrian border | White House says it won't cooperate on impeachment inquiry Pat Robertson 'absolutely appalled' by Trump's Syria announcement 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 HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom 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.”