President Donald Trump told Democratic leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security” in a nationally televised meeting Tuesday.
Congress is facing a pre-holiday, partial government shutdown on December 21 at 11:59 p.m., an act that Trump previously told Politico that he’d be “totally willing to do” if Congress didn’t provide $5 billion in funding to build his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. According to CQ Roll Call, Trump preferred a “back-and-forth” dialogue with Senate Minority Chuck Schumer and presumed House Majority Leader Pelosi rather that delivering his demands.
But the conversation, which CNN notes was supposed to be closed before Trump invited in press, quickly became heated when it became clear that Democrats did not plan to provide wall funding that went beyond $1.6 billion that had been previously negotiated on in a bipartisan agreement.
“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Trump said, indicating that he could send the armed forces to build the wall if Democrats failed to provide votes that would offer funding. “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”
Trump’s ownership of the looming shutdown was one of the few things Democrat leadership agreed upon in the meeting, a fact that was made particularly clear when Pelosi told the president that the American people believed they “should not have a Trump shutdown.”
The president, however, was less enthused by this designation (#TrumpShutdown is currently trending on Twitter), retorting, “A what? Did you say Trump?”
“This has spiraled downward,” Pelosi said when the leadership argued over whether Trump could secure funding for the wall without Democratic votes in the Democratically led House and Senate, which has a Republican majority, although would need bipartisan support to reach the required 60 votes.
While Pence was also present at the meeting, his noticeable silence has provided for internet fodder.
Although White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement describing the meeting as a “constructive dialogue” in spite of disagreement over the border, the White House later tweeted that Democrats were standing in the way of border security.
Democrats continued the sparring after the meeting as well.
Said Schumer outside the White House, “This Trump shutdown, this temper tantrum that he seems to throw, will not get him his wall and will hurt a lot of people.”