Skip to Content

Trump Won’t Sign Senate Spending Bill as Shutdown Deadline Nears

Donald Trump will refuse to sign the Senate’s version of a stopgap spending bill that would avert a partial government shutdown because it doesn’t include funds he’s demanded for border security, House Speaker Paul Ryan said after a White House meeting with the president.

“We want to see an agreement that protects the border,” Ryan told reporters Thursday. “We’re going to go back and work on adding border security to this.”

The visit by Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy was hastily scheduled after conservative House Republicans revolted and insisted they wouldn’t vote for the Senate’s temporary spending bill because it lacks money for a wall at the border with Mexico. The House GOP is set to lose its majority to the Democrats in two weeks.

The GOP-controlled Senate easily passed the stopgap measure by voice vote late Wednesday. A number of senators appeared to have left town on Thursday.

Stocks turned sharply lower as the threat of a shutdown increased a day after the Federal Reserve sent shock waves across assets. The S&P 500 tumbled to a 15-month low, and the Nasdaq Composite index slumped to the brink of a bear market. The large-cap measure is down 10 percent in December, on track for its worst month of the record bull run.

‘Still Time’

Without an agreement to fund the government by midnight Friday, nine departments including Homeland Security will close just before the Christmas holiday.

McCarthy said “we believe there is still time” for lawmakers to iron out differences over Trump’s demand for additional funding for border security.

The president previously said he would be “proud” to shut down the government if he doesn’t get the money. McCarthy said that if the House passed a bill with border funds and the Senate stripped the money back out, “the president wouldn’t sign it.”

Third-ranking House Republican Steve Scalise said the House will add $5 billion wall funding and federal disaster aid sought by some lawmakers to the Senate bill that would keep the government open through Feb. 8.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in an email after the meeting that the Republicans who met with the president “all feel strongly about border security” and added, “We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall.”

‘Not Good!’

Earlier Thursday, a Twitter posting by Trump deepened doubts about the stopgap bill’s fate.

“When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” Trump wrote. “Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries – but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said regarding the president, “It would be his responsibility for a Christmas shutdown and every single American would know it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California has contended the House GOP doesn’t have the votes to pass a bill with border wall funds. “We’re right in the middle of a sort of meltdown on the part of Republicans,” she told reporters at a news conference Thursday. Democrats will take the House majority in January.

Ryan and his leadership team had begun the day planning to hold floor votes on the Senate’s spending package. But Ryan came under heavy criticism from conservatives during a private party meeting and then was called out to speak to Trump on the phone, several lawmakers said.

Ryan—who has been busy giving a series of farewell speeches in recent weeks as he plans to leave office—canceled a scheduled press conference before he and other House GOP leaders were summoned to the White House.

‘Worth Fighting For’

Representative Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican, said members are tired of leaders making all the decisions without consulting them.

“There’s a lot of people that believe we’ve got unfinished business that’s worth fighting for,” he said. “We promised border security.”

Conservative Austin Scott, a Georgia Republican, who has sided with leadership in the past, said he agreed.

“We need disaster relief and we need to secure our border. I am a definitely a ‘no’” on the Senate bill without the border funds, Scott said.

Ryan also is being squeezed by moderate Republicans including Florida Representatives Carlos Curbelo, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Tom Rooney, who are seeking federal disaster aid.

Democrats would be in control of the House when the temporary funding expired, giving Trump less leverage in his demand for the $5 billion. Trump had said he would hold up Democratic priorities like an infrastructure package next year to try to get the wall, but conservatives said the best time to fight is while Republicans still have the majority.

“There is no way this gets any better next year,” said House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows of North Carolina. “Now is the time to fight.”