President Trump told House Republican leaders Thursday that he would refuse to sign the two-month continuing resolution passed by the Senate Wednesday night to keep federal agencies open, increasing the likelihood of a partial government shutdown this weekend.
Trump met with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan Thursday to discuss the Senate bill, which would extend the funding deadline from Friday to Feb. 8. According to Ryan, Trump said he would not sign a bill that does not include additional funding for “border security.”
“The president informed us he will not sign the bill that came last evening, because of his legitimate concerns for border security,” Ryan said. “So what we’re going to do is go back to the House and work with our members. We want to keep the government open, but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border.”
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Congress and Trump have until Friday at midnight to come to an agreement on how to fund the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security and Justice, as well as other independent agencies. The Office of Management and Budget on Thursday instructed agencies to begin notifying employees of whether they will be furloughed or excepted in the event of a lapse in appropriations, a routine procedure two days before a funding deadline.
Although Trump said last week that he would be “proud” to shut down the government if Congress did not approve $5 billion in funding for his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, he appeared to cave on that demand in recent days. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly told Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn that Trump would sign “a clean CR.”
In a statement following the meeting, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said any deal to keep the government open must include funding for a border wall.
“President Trump just met with Republican members of the House,” she said. “Not surprisingly, they all feel strongly about border security—stopping the flow of drugs, stopping human trafficking, and stopping terrorism. We protect nations all over the world, but Democrats are unwilling to protect our nation. We urgently need funding for border security and that includes a wall.”
It is unclear whether there are enough votes in the House to approve a funding bill that includes wall appropriations. But even if it does pass, it is unlikely to make it through the Senate. Some Republican senators have already left Washington, and others reportedly plan to fly home later Thursday.