Trump warns of lengthy gov’t shutdown unless funds approved for wall
US President Donald Trump on Friday warned of a long-lasting partial government shutdown if Democrats in the Senate do not support a short-term spending bill that includes $5 billion in funding for a wall along the border with Mexico.
Republicans in the House of Representatives - where the GOP has a much larger majority, though only until Democrats take control of the lower house in January - passed that bill on Thursday night.
They made that move rather than approve a Senate-passed short-term spending bill that did not include wall funding.
Their abrupt turn-around came after Trump said he would veto the Senate bill.
“The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED,” the president wrote on Twitter.
“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!” Trump said.
In a subsequent tweet, Trump said Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should invoke the so-called “nuclear option” to overcome Democratic opposition, pass the House bill and avert a government shutdown starting at 12.01 EST on Saturday, when seven spending bills expire.
That was in reference to an option - used previously in the Senate for executive branch and judicial nominations - that would eliminate the Democrats’ ability to filibuster the bill and allow it to be passed with a simple majority.
Under current Senate rules, Republicans need 60 votes to overcome a filibuster of a spending bill and they only have a 51-49 majority. Democrats are united in their opposition to a border wall.
The Senate is scheduled to debate the House bill on Friday.
That measure would fund government operations until Feb. 8 and includes the $5 billion Trump wants to begin building a border wall, one of his major campaign promises in 2016.
Trump also has repeatedly assured taxpayers that Mexico will indirectly pay for the wall, which his core base of supporters says is essential to stop illegal immigration.
Before calling for the nuclear option, Trump urged McConnell to push hard for passage of the House bill under normal procedures.
“Senator Mitch McConnell should fight for the Wall and Border Security as hard as he fought for anything,” Trump said. “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! House Republicans were great yesterday.”
If no stopgap spending bill is passed, the government will partially shut down for the third time since Trump was inaugurated in January 2017.
The first shutdown occurred in January of this year and lasted three days, while the second took place in February and lasted just a few hours.