Trump Edges Nation Closer to Holiday Shutdown

WASHINGTON (CN) – Dividing the GOP even further ahead of a possible shutdown, President Donald Trump told House Republican leaders he won’t sign the short-term funding bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday because of “legitimate concerns for border security,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday after a meeting at the White House.

Under holiday decorations, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., left, walks away from the West Wing of the White House with staff and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., fourth from left, as they leave after after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

The bill passed by the Senate was set for a vote in the House on Thursday, but the quick fix to avoid a partial government shutdown over Christmas was abruptly chilled by a phone call from Trump to Ryan – who quickly cancelled a press conference Thursday morning and made his way to the White House.

Proposed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier this week, the bill would have funded for the government through February 8, ensuring thousands of government employees wouldn’t be working without pay through the holidays. The short-term bill notably did not add additional funding for Trump’s proposed border wall. 

“We protect nations all over the world, but Democrats are unwilling to protect our nation,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement after the meeting. “We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall.”

Although the president seemed to back down from his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the southern border earlier this week, his potential support for the new short-term bill drew fierce criticism from conservative members of the House and the press, who balked at postponing the issue until next year when Democrats take over the House. 

Representative Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and the House Freedom Caucus are among the loudest dissenters.

In a tweet Wednesday, Meadows said “punting to Feb. 8 on a [continuing resolution] not only gives Democrats a Christmas present, it offers them a Valentine’s Day gift. Democrats will win, the wall will not be built, and Congress will once again have punted when we should’ve been taking a stand. The time to fight is now. Zero excuse.”

Representative Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., was equally frustrated with the lack of border wall funding on the House floor Wednesday night.

“The time to fight is now,” he said. “I mean, this is stupid.”

While the president has not explicitly stated whether he will veto the bill should it reach his desk, support from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats may push the bill to the White House by Friday. 

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