Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, the speaker-designate for the new Congress, talk to reporters as a revised spending bill is introduced in the House that includes $5 billion demanded by President Donald Trump for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as Congress tries to avert a partial shutdown, in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

U.S. government careens toward shutdown after Trump’s wall demand

The White House said Trump will not travel to Florida on Friday as planned for the Christmas holiday if the government is shutting down.

The federal government was careening toward a partial shutdown Friday after President Donald Trump’s quest for a border wall left Congress without a clear plan to keep the government running past a midnight deadline.

The Senate was being called back to session to consider a package approved by House Republicans late Thursday that includes the $5.7 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico. It is almost certain to be rejected by the Senate. Senators already passed their own bipartisan package 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 funding through Feb. 8.

The White House said Trump will not travel to Florida on Friday as planned for the Christmas holiday if the government is 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.

“The president’s been clear from the beginning, he wants something that gives border security and he’s not going to sign something that doesn’t have that,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

At issue is funding for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice, as well as national parks and forests.

Many agencies, including the Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services, are funded for the year and would continue to operate as usual. The U.S. Postal Service, busy delivering packages for the holiday season, would not be affected by any government shutdown because it’s an independent agency.

The shutdown crisis could be one of the final acts of the House GOP majority before relinquishing control to Democrats in January. Congress had been on track to fund the government but lurched when Trump, after a rare lashing from conservative supporters, declared Thursday he would not sign a bill without the funding. Conservatives want to keep fighting. They warn that “caving” on Trump’s repeated wall promises could hurt his 2020 re-election chances, and other Republicans’ as well.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned senators they may need to return to Washington for a vote Friday. Many senators already left town for the holidays.

“Now we find compromise,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said. “We have time right now to get it done.”

Late Thursday, the GOP-led House voted largely along party lines, 217-185, to attach the border wall money to the Senate’s bill after GOP leaders framed the vote as a slap-back to Nancy Pelosi. She is poised to become House speaker on Jan. 3 and had warned Trump in a televised Oval Office meeting last week that he wouldn’t have the votes for the wall.

House Republicans also tacked on nearly $8 billion in disaster aid for coastal hurricanes and California wildfires.

Some Republicans senators cheered on the House, but prospects in the Senate are grim amid strong opposition from Democrats. Even though Republicans have a slim majority, 60 votes are needed to approve the bill there.

One possibility Friday is that the Senate strips the border wall out of the bill but keeps the disaster funds and sends it back to the House. House lawmakers said they were being told to stay in town for more possible votes.

With Pelosi’s backing, the Senate-passed bill likely has enough support for House approval with votes mostly from Democratic lawmakers, who are still the minority, and some Republicans.

Others were not so sure. “I don’t see how we avoid a shutdown,” said retiring Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the chairman of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said he was not convinced after a White House meeting with GOP leaders that Trump would sign the Senate bill.

“I looked him in the eyes today, and he was serious about not folding without a fight,” Meadows said.

Trump’s sudden rejection of the Senate-approved legislation, after days of mixed messages, sent Republican leaders scrambling for options days before Christmas.

Read more: White House closer to partial shutdown with wall demand

Read more: Trump backs off on demand for $5 billion to build a border wall

House Speaker Paul Ryan, exiting the hastily called meeting with Trump at the White House, said Thursday, “We’re going to go back and work on adding border security to this, also keeping the government open, because we do want to see an agreement.”

By afternoon, Trump shifted his terminology, saying he’s not necessarily demanding a border wall but “steel slats” — which is similar to the border security fencing already provided for in the bill.

“We don’t use the word ‘wall’ necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job,” Trump said at a farm bill signing at the White House. The nuance could provide Trump a way to try to proclaim victory since the Senate bill includes money for fencing, but not the wall.

Democratic leaders have made clear they will not budge on their opposition to the border wall that Trump campaigned on saying Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has refused.

“The Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Democrats favour border security, Schumer said, but he denounced the wall as “ineffective, unnecessary and exorbitantly expensive.”

Ryan and McCarthy had endured complaints during a private morning meeting earlier Thursday from rank-and-file Republicans in the Capitol that they were closing out their majority without a fight on a major issue.

Trump interrupted the basement session with a phone call to Ryan, and then the president lashed out at Republican leaders on Twitter.

Ryan had promised a “big fight” after November’s midterm elections, but as Republicans lost House control, negotiations over the year-end spending bill have largely been between Trump and Democrats.

“I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” Trump tweeted.

Trump has bounced back and forth with mixed messages. Just last week he said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over the wall. Earlier this week he appeared to shelve shutdown threats, with the White House saying he was open to reviewing whatever bill Congress could send him.

“Republicans are in a state of disarray,” said Pelosi. “Wall funding is a nonstarter.”

___

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Kevin Freking in Washington contributed to this report.

Lisa Mascaro, Matthew Daly And Catherine Lucey, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Your Columbia River Revelstoke candidates; Nicole Cherlet (NDP); Samson Boyer (Green) and Doug Clovechok (BC Liberal). The polls are closed and ballots being counted. (File photo)
BC VOTES: Clovechok preliminary winner with 52 per cent of the vote

35 of 77 polls have reported and The Canadian Press is calling Clovechok winner

Firefighters and RCMP are on scene at a fire on Douglas Street. (Jocelyn Doll - Revelstoke Review)
PHOTOS: Firefighters battling blaze on Douglas Street

RCMP are also on scene and blocking off access to the street

The Columbia River Revelstoke riding saw three candidates, Nicole Cherlet for the NDP, Samson Boyer for the Green Party and Doug Clovechok, incumbent, for the BC Liberals. (Jocelyn Doll/Revelstoke Review)
UPDATE: Polls now closed in 2020 provincial election

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

Kelowna Secondary School. (SD23 photo)
One case of COVID-19 identified at Kelowna Secondary School

Interior Health will follow up directly with those who may have been exposed to the virus

BC NDP candidate Harwinder Sandhu offered praise to her team of volunteers (pictured Oct. 21), following a too-close race with BC Liberal and incumbent Eric Foster in the 2020 provincial election Oct. 24. The outcome will be dependent on the final count from mail-in ballots expected in three weeks. (Facebook)
‘Every vote counts’ in tight Vernon-Monashee race: NDP Harwinder Sandhu

Incumbent BC Liberal Eric Foster finishes election night with slim lead

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO)
UPDATE: One dead after Highway 97A crash near Armstrong, police watchdog investigating

The crash happened as RCMP attempted to stop an alleged stolen vehicle

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Provincial Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau speaks at Provincial Green Party headquarters at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe in Victoria. (Arnold Lim / Black Press)
VIDEO: Furstenau leads BC Greens to win first riding outside of Vancouver Island

Sonia Furstenau became leader of BC Greens one week before snap election was called

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

Most Read