Trump demands Mitch McConnell end the filibuster or else suffer a "very long" government shutdown

After conservative House Republicans successfully passed funding for a border wall, Trump threatens the Senate

Published December 21, 2018 10:44AM (EST)

Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
Donald Trump; Mitch McConnell (AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta/Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

President Donald Trump on Friday warned that a partial government shutdown would last "for a very long time" if Congress does not provide the funds he claims are needed to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In a series of morning tweets, Trump attempted to pin blame on Democrats for a potential government shutdown even though he said last week that he would be "proud" to shut down the government if Congress did not agree to provide at least $5 billion toward one of his biggest campaign promises. He also suggested that Senate rules should be amended, if necessary, so that Republicans could pass the bill without support from the Democrats.

"The Democrats, whose votes we need in the Senate, will probably vote against Border Security and the Wall even though they know it is DESPERATELY NEEDED," Trump wrote on Twitter. "If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last for a very long time. People don’t want Open Borders and Crime!"

Trump also urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to "use the Nuclear option and get it done!"

The nuclear option would suspend the upper chamber's 60-vote threshold required to pass legislation and allow only a simple majority — just 51 senators or 50, with Vice President Mike Pence serving as a tiebreaker — to pass a bill and send it to the president's desk for his signature and prevent a partial government. McConnell has repeatedly said support does not exist for extending the simple-majority threshold in this case, even among Senate Republicans.

The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a spending bill that would fund the government through Feb. 8, 2019 and includes more than $5 billion for border security. The House bill also includes nearly $8 billion for disaster relief and wildfires. The vote was 217-185 along party lines. The legislation is almost certain to fail when it heads to the Senate at noon today.

In a late-night tweet, Trump thanked "our GREAT Republican Members of Congress" for the vote, adding, "Now on to the Senate!"

The president also criticized House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who said in an Oval Office meeting last week that she did not think Trump could garner the votes he needs to pass a spending bill that includes funding for his border wall and noted that Trump repeatedly promised during the 2016 presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for it — a promise that Mexico has repeatedly rebuked.

"Nancy does not have to apologize. All I want is GREAT BORDER SECURITY!" Trump wrote.

The House vote failed to break a bitter budget standoff, as Democrats have the Senate votes to block any spending bill that includes funding for Trump's wall — and Trump said he'll veto any bill that doesn't.

If the president and Congress cannot agree on a new government spending package by the Dec. 21 midnight deadline, nine of out of 15 federal departments and dozens of agencies would shutter just three days before Christmas. For now, Congress remains in a race against the clock.

By Shira Tarlo

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