Trump Warns Of ‘Very Long’ Shutdown Unless Senate Approves Border Wall Funds

December 21, 2018

Updated at 11:41 a.m. ET

President Trump says the government could be shut down “for a very long time” unless the Senate approves a funding bill opposed by Democrats, which includes some $5.7 billion for a wall on the southwest border.

The bleak warning came a day after the House approved the measure. In a series of tweets early Friday, Trump, who previously said he would “be proud” to shut down the government, attempted to shift the blame onto Democrats for a potential shutdown.

“If Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!” Trump tweeted.

The Senate is expected to consider the House-passed bill on Friday, but Democrats are expected to block any action on it.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters Thursday night: “The bottom line is simple. The Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall.”

Unless funding is approved by Congress and signed by the president, the nine federal departments and several independent agencies that were not part of an earlier spending deal will shut down 12:01 a.m. ET Saturday, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal workers without paychecks as Christmas approaches.

Many employees who do what are considered essential duties, including law enforcement agents and Transportation Security Administration officers, would remain on the job.

Trump will meet with Senate Republicans on Friday, according to White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to change Senate rules and allow a simple majority to pass the spending bill, rather than 60 votes, a major disruption to Senate protocol known as the “nuclear option.”

When they held the majority, Democrats changed the rules to allow a majority to vote for nominations, but not legislation, and McConnell has opposed going further, with the knowledge that if Democrats regain the majority, it could be used against Republicans.

After the president’s tweet, a number of GOP senators said they would not be in favor of changing the rules. “We have rules to follow,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. “I want to put a stop to this practice of the Senate breaking its rules to change its rules. I will not vote to turn the Senate into a rule-breaking institution and I hope that my colleagues will not.”

And a spokesman for McConnell put the final nail in the coffin, saying, “The Leader has said for years that the votes are not there in the Conference to use the nuclear option. Just this morning, several Senators put out statements confirming their opposition, and confirming that there is not a majority in the conference to go down that road.”

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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