President Trump sent GOP leaders back to Capitol Hill to scrounge up votes for his border wall, or something like it, after they tried to drop it from a must-pass spending bill.
A government shutdown over the Christmas holiday was back on the table after Trump told House Republican leaders he would not sign a bill to keep parts of the government open beyond tomorrow because it does not include funding for his border wall.
Republicans are currently trying to convince enough lawmakers to pass a bill that includes a $5 billion appropriation for his border barrier, which Trump now concedes can be constructed of “steel slats” to give Republicans an out in the way the spending measure is worded.
“At this moment there is a debate over defending border security and the wall, also called, so that I give them a little bit out an out, steel slats, we only use the wall necessarily, but it has to be something special to do the job, steel slats,” he said during an unrelated bill signing.
“I’ve made my position very clear. Any measure that funds the government has to include border security. Has to. Not for political purposes,” he argued, although he has been taking heat from conservative pundits on talk radio and television.
Speaker Paul Ryan emerged from a meeting with Trump at the White House to announce that he was going back to the drawing board after a presidential brow-beating that lasted more than an hour.
Ryan and the GOP’s second-in-command, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, told reporters awaiting an update that Trump “informed us that he will not sign the bill” that passed in the Senate late Wednesday evening “because of his legitimate concerns for border security.”
‘We want to keep the government open, but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border,’ the outgoing Republican congressman said. ‘We have very serious concerns about securing our border.’
Last night, the Senate passed a stopgap measure to keep the government open until Feb. 8 — without the $5 billion that Trump wanted for the border wall.
Prominent conservative voices weren’t happy about it.
“It is now crystal clear that one of two things is true: Either Trump never intended to build the wall and was scamming voters all along, or he has no idea how to get it done and zero interest in finding out,” Ann Coulter wrote, suggesting Trump would be a failed president without the wall.
In response, Trump stopped following Coulter on Twitter today.
Rush Limbaugh said yesterday: “I mean, Washington came together to pass criminal justice reform in like 10 minutes. Meanwhile, $5 billion, a measly $5 billion — when compared to the size of the federal budget for border security — is an impossibility. Somebody needs to explain to me how this happened.”
The headline on Drudge from yesterday: “WALL STALL: TRUMP IN RETREAT.”
On “Fox & Friends,” Trump’s favorite and most-tweeted-about morning show, conservative blogger Michelle Malkin described his latest move as a “cave” and a “blink.”