A day after the Senate passed a short-term spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown, the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus and its talking-head supporters rushed to some of the president’s favored platforms — Fox News Channel and Twitter — to urge him to veto the bipartisan stopgap.
Earlier this month, Trump tried to goad the Democratic leadership into giving him $5 billion in taxpayer funding for the border wall he had previously promised would be fully funded by Mexico. At the time, he said he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security,” saying, “I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it.”
But in recent days, it became clear that Trump does not have the votes in Congress for his pet project and that he would likely accept defeat. Congressional leaders reached a bipartisan deal late Wednesday night; after it passed the Senate on a voice vote, it was expected to soon clear the House as well.
Still, some members of the Trump administration reportedly signaled that the president might change his mind about signing the bill. In response, the House Freedom Caucus launched a full-throated effort to sway the president, featuring House floor speeches, angry tweets, and Fox News appearances.
The group’s chair, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), was joined by Reps. Andy Biggs (R-KY), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Scott Perry (R-PA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Jody Hice (R-GA), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Ted Budd (R-NC), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Michael Cloud (R-TX), and Brian Babin (R-TX) for a series of “special order” speeches in the House chamber.
Meadows then appeared on Fox News on Thursday morning, warning that a continuing resolution without border wall funding was not a “punt” but a “fumble,” and complaining that Trump’s mind must have been poisoned by “bad advice.”
Meadows urged Trump to veto the spending bill, should it reach his desk, and to shut down much of the government days before the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays.
Minutes later, conservative shock-jock and National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch joined the show to echo Meadows.
After host Jedediah Bila complained that it appears Trump “just caved,” Loesch replied, “I don’t know if he’s getting bad advice. That’s the only thing I can conclude because this is so out of character for what the president has said.” She then suggested that previous government shutdowns have actually helped congressional Republicans win elections.
While they lobbied Trump on his favorite television program, several others attempted to enlist him to torpedo the bill on favorite web forum: Twitter.
I pledged to my constituents that I would fight for increased border security and wall funding. I can’t support a funding bill that doesn’t take meaningful steps to fulfill these commitments. Now is the time for Republicans to fight for promises we made. https://t.co/3XK8sS5BQf
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) December 20, 2018
Folding to Nancy and Chuck on national security matters is not what I came to Washington to do. There are no excuses. We have to do our jobs and stop punting this issue down the road. We must secure our borders.
— Dr. Roger Marshall (@RogerMarshallMD) December 20, 2018
.@freedomcaucus members have been consistent for 2 years: fund & build the wall. It is completely unnecessary to stand idle until funding deadlines arrive, but since we're here again, let's fight for what we promised the American people. Anything less is a breach of trust.
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) December 20, 2018
Promises were made, and we need to deliver. It is time to #buildthewall.
— Ralph Norman (@RepRalphNorman) December 20, 2018
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Fool the American people FOUR TIMES, shame on Congress.
— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) December 20, 2018
Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he would punish the incoming Democratic House majority next year if they don’t give him his way on border security funding.
The Democrats, who know Steel Slats (Wall) are necessary for Border Security, are putting politics over Country. What they are just beginning to realize is that I will not sign any of their legislation, including infrastructure, unless it has perfect Border Security. U.S.A. WINS!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 20, 2018
The House Republican Conference will reportedly hold a closed-door meeting on Thursday to decide how to proceed with the stopgap bill.