President Donald Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders on Wednesday after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) reaffirmed that House Democrats would not give him the billions of taxpayer dollars he is demanding for a border wall he promised would be fully funded by Mexico.
Though Trump told reporters that congressional Republicans are “totally unified” behind his shutdown strategy, eight members disproved him on Wednesday, voting with the new Democratic House majority to reopen portions of the federal government currently without funding.
The Trump shutdown is rapidly approaching the record for the longest such shutdown in U.S. history and hundreds of thousands of federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay.
Last week, eight House Republicans voted for legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security for a month, to fund the remaining shuttered agencies for the rest of the year, or for both. At that time, two Republican senators (Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine) publicly broke with Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to urge that the government be reopened without border wall funding.
On Wednesday, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) became the latest senator to break with her party’s leaders, personally urging Trump to back down and calling for an immediate end to the shutdown — even without a resolution on the question of border security. “I think we can walk and talk at the same time,” Murkowski said.
Then, the House passed H.R. 264 on Wednesday evening, a bill to reopen the Department of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, and Small Business Administration — the first of four planned votes to reopen shuttered parts of the government. And even more House Republicans bolted.
The Republicans who voted for the measure included Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA), John Katko (NY), Will Hurd (TX), Elise Stefanik (NY), Fred Upton (MI), Adam Kinzinger (IL), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA), and Greg Walden (OR). Six of the representatives also voted for one or both of last week’s bills.
As millions of Americans begin to feel the negative effects of the shutdown and polls show the majority do not want their government held hostage for a border wall, congressional Republicans are facing increased pressure to justify the stalemate.
McConnell has thus far refused to take up any bill that Trump won’t sign. But with two-thirds majorities in the House and Senate, Congress could override any Trump veto and reopen the government — whether Trump likes it or not.