President Donald Trump threatened to allow a government shutdown over his border wall on Tuesday during a contentious meeting with Democratic leaders at the White House.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) met with the president to discuss the budget before a possible government shutdown.
Both sides have dug in their heels when it comes to funding a security wall along the southern border.
But the meeting didn’t appear to help them bridge that divide.
“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other, whether it’s through you, it’s through military, I will shut down the government,” Trump said toward the end of their meeting at the White House.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security because the people of this country don’t want criminals with lots of problems and drugs pouring into the country.”
“So I will take the mantle.”
The White House meeting started off formally and politely, but within 10 minutes it quickly devolved into an argument.
Schumer argued they should not close the the federal government over a simple policy dispute. Trump countered it was Schumer who shut down the government last time over a policy dispute, which he immediately denied.
“Twenty times you have called for, ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get my wall,'” Schumer said right beforehand. “None of us have called for that.”
Trump happily admitted that he is the one this time willing to shut down the government in the name of border security. He even said he would take full blame and not put it on Schumer and Pelosi if it did come to that. The president then abruptly ended the meeting by thanking the reporters and everyone else for attending.
Trump could very well follow through on his threat to shut down the government with his promise to veto spending bills that don’t include $5 billion for the wall to secure the border. Congress still has seven spending bills to pass to avoid a government shutdown before December 21.
Republicans will also lose a major edge, with congressional control splitting when the new session starts January 3.
Schumer has offered the president the $1.6 billion he originally requested for his wall. He faced resistance from the more progressive wings of his party, which prompted him to later clarify that the figure was already included in an earlier appropriations bill.
Schumer also said the border security funds wouldn’t go to the border wall.
Congress was able to fund most of the government by passing the two biggest minibus packages. The Senate and House last week had to pass a continuing resolution to fund the federal government for two weeks to avoid a shutdown on December 7. Both chambers quickly passed the resolution within an hour of each other with a voice vote.
The first minibus package covered energy, the legislative branch, military construction and veterans affairs, with billions of dollars in additional funding. The second minibus package includes billions of dollars that primarily go toward defense, labor, health services and education.
Trump signed the package into law in late September.
The second package also allowed lawmakers to avoid an earlier government shutdown by including a continuing resolution that extended the original deadline of September 30.
They began to work on the next packages until they were sidetracked by more pressing issues, with each chamber passing its own versions of a third package.
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