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Shutdown Looms as Trump, Democrats on Opposite Sides of Border Wall Funding

The U.S. Capitol is seen reflected after rain in Washington, Dec. 21, 2018.
The U.S. Capitol is seen reflected after rain in Washington, Dec. 21, 2018.

After previously saying he would "proudly" accept responsibility for a partial U.S. government shutdown if Congress does not pass legislation that includes $5 billion for his proposed border wall, President Donald Trump declared Friday on Twitter "The Democrats now own the shutdown!"

The Republican-led House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill Thursday that includes funding for his wall, and the Senate is expected to vote on the measure Friday in hopes of averting a shutdown at midnight.

"If the Dems vote no, there will be a shutdown that will last a very long time," Trump tweeted Friday.

In an attempt to bolster the slim chances of the measure's passage in the Senate, Trump summoned Senate Republicans to the White House Friday morning to discuss the bill and border security.

Trump repeatedly has demanded funds to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and he told House Republican leaders before Thursday's vote he would not sign a bill approved by the Senate, which did not include funding for the wall.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the U.S. Capitol as he goes to the White House, Dec. 21, 2018.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the U.S. Capitol as he goes to the White House, Dec. 21, 2018.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told colleagues Friday on the Senate floor that Trump is making unilateral decisions that is creating chaos throughout the world.

"All of this turmoil is causing chaos in the markets, chaos abroad and it’s making the United States less prosperous and less secure," Schumer said. "There are not the votes in the Senate for an expensive taxpayer-funded border wall. So President Trump you will not get your wall. Abandon your shutdown strategy. You’re not getting your wall today, next week or on January 3rd when Democrats take control of the House."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell argued for the wall's funding, saying, "The need for greater security on our southern border is not some partisan invention. It’s an empirical fact and the need is only growing."

McConnell added: "Apprehensions along the border have nearly doubled in the past year. The men and women in the border patrol are encountering greater numbers of gang members and individuals with criminal histories, more family units, more seizures of cocaine and fentanyl. This is a real crisis."

Trump also called key Republican lawmakers to the White House Thursday for talks about the wall and the bill needed to keep about a quarter of government operations from shutting down when funding expires at midnight Friday, just ahead of the Christmas holiday next week.

Trump has voiced increasing frustration that Congress has refused his request for a $5-billion down payment on the $20-billion wall he says will thwart illegal immigration. Construction of the wall was a popular rallying cry at Trump campaign events during his successful 2016 run for the White House.

The dispute is occurring in the last days of Republican control of both houses of Congress.

Democrats, adamantly opposed to Trump's wall proposal, picked up 40 seats in the 435-member House of Representatives in the November elections and are set assume control in early January, although Republicans will maintain their edge in the Senate.

Before Thursday's meeting at the White House, Trump blamed Democrats for Congress' failure to approve funding for the wall, although some Republicans also oppose it.

Trump, after vowing during the campaign two years ago to make Mexico pay for the wall, has unsuccessfully sought congressional approval for U.S. taxpayer funding for the wall. But with uniform Democratic opposition and scattered Republican opposition, Trump has not collected enough votes to win approval for the wall.

Trump last week said he would "proudly" accept responsibility for a shutdown in a fight over the border wall.

"It is nothing to be proud of," Schumer said. " The bottom line is simple – the Trump temper tantrum will shut down the government, but it will not get him his wall."

Nonetheless, Trump tweeted, "One way or the other, we will win on the Wall!"