Facing a midnight deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, President Donald Trump said Friday a closure would drag on “for a very long time” and he tried to build the case that congressional Democrats would bear responsibility if there’s no deal over his demand for U.S.-Mexico border wall money.
Only a week ago, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government, which Republicans now control, in the name of border security. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down,” he asserted.
But with the hours dwindling before the midnight deadline, Trump sought to reframe the debate and make Democrats the holdouts to settling an impasse that threatens hundreds of thousands of federal workers on the eve of the end-of-the-year holidays.
And he exhorted the Senate’s Republican leader to corral enough Democratic votes to send a House-passed plan to the White House, even though the measure is almost certain to be rejected in the Senate.
“Senator Mitch McConnell should fight for the Wall and Border Security as hard as he fought for anything. He will need Democrat votes, but as shown in the House, good things happen. If enough Dems don’t vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!” he tweeted.
At the same time, Trump said he expected Democrats “will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED. If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!”
The Senate has been called back into session to consider a package approved by House Republicans late Thursday that includes the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico.
Senators had passed their own bipartisan bill earlier in the week to keep the government running, with border security at existing levels, $1.3 billion, but no money for the wall. Both bills would extend government funding through Feb. 8.
The White House said Trump would not travel to Florida on Friday as planned for the Christmas holiday if the government were shutting down.
More than 800,000 federal workers will be facing furloughs or forced to work without pay if a resolution is not reached before funding expires at midnight Friday.