Trump threatens shutdown during televised spat
WASHINGTON — In a wild Oval Office confrontation, US President Donald Trump heatedly threatened to shut down the government on Tuesday as he and Democratic leaders bickered over funding for his promised border wall and offered a grim preview of life in Washington the next two years under divided government.
Trump and House and Senate Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer squabbled for more than 15 minutes in the stunning, televised encounter. Each of them, especially Trump, interrupted the others to question facts, quibble over election results and lob insults.
Trump questioned Pelosi’s ability to count votes in her own House. She questioned his manhood after she left the building.
The public clash marked Trump’s first meeting with the newly empowered Democrats since their midterm victories that put them in control of the House, laying bare the tensions on both sides and suggesting how divided government might work or not as the 2020 presidential election nears.
In the public debate, Trump sounded more determined than ever to allow a partial government shutdown unless he gets the billions he wants for his long-promised wall along the US-Mexico border.
“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other — whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call — I will shut down the government,” Trump said as the heated argument drew to a crescendo.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country,” he said before reporters left their ringside seats.
Vice-President Mike beside Trump, silent faced.
Congress wants to finalize spending before a Dec 21 deadline. While Trump’s fellow Republicans control the House of Representatives and Senate until next month, Democratic support is needed to pass spending legislation.
If the impasse cannot be resolved by Dec 21, about one-quarter of the federal government immediately would be left without funding. Money for the rest of the government already has been appropriated.
Trump has asked Congress for $5 billion for border security, while Schumer and Pelosi said they Pence sat and stone offered to extend funding at current levels, around $1.3 billion. That is less than the $1.6 billion a bipartisan Senate committee approved.
Schumer accused Trump of throwing a tantrum but said Trump told the Democrats he would consider their budget proposals, Schumer told reporters.
Pelosi, who told reporters she thought the Democrats had left things “in a pretty good place”, said she had asked Trump to pray about resolving the dispute, recounting the biblical story of King Solomon asking God for wisdom.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, told reporters, “I’d still like to see a smooth ending here and I haven’t given up hope that’s what we’ll have.”