With just days left before a possible partial government shutdown, a number of retiring House Republicans have been failing to show up for votes in the weeks since the midterms, The New York Times reported Sunday.
President Trump vowed last week that he would “own” a possible government shutdown in an effort to secure funding for a wall on the country’s southern border.
“I will take the mantle,” Trump said during a meeting with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). “I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.”
But in the days since that meeting, Trump has repeatedly blamed Democrats for refusing to support funding for the wall — even as his own party has acted inadvertently to stymie efforts and slow the process.
Anytime you hear a Democrat saying that you can have good Border Security without a Wall, write them off as just another politician following the party line. Time for us to save billions of dollars a year and have, at the same time, far greater safety and control!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2018
Let’s not do a shutdown, Democrats – do what’s right for the American People! pic.twitter.com/bZg07ZKQqo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018
“Let’s not do a shutdown, Democrats,” he tweeted just one day after meeting with Schumer and Pelosi. “[D]o what’s right for the American people.”
On Monday morning, he wrote, “Anytime [sic] you hear a Democrat saying that you can have good Boarder [sic] Security without a Wall, write them off as just another politician following the party line. Time for us to save billions of dollars a year and have, at the same time, far greater safety and control!” (Trump later deleted the tweet and reposted it with correct spelling.)
As the Times reported Sunday night, even if Trump ultimately agrees to a package that will avoid a shutdown, the fact that many retiring Republicans are simply not showing up for votes means GOP House leadership doesn’t know if they will have the votes to pass it.
“No one has any idea what the play call is — we don’t know what’s going on,” said retiring Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA). “You don’t have an office. You’re in wind-down mode, saying goodbye to people and wrapping up, and just putting your voting card in the machine and pressing red or green. It’s going through the motions.”
“That’s me with my hands up in the air,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), the second-highest ranking member of the Senate leadership, told reporters with a shrug last week. “There is no discernible plan — none that’s been disclosed.”
Republicans recently got on board with Trump’s $5 billion border wall funding request, following months of pushback, including an attempt this summer to block approved funds from being used on any actual barriers, absent a “comprehensive border security strategy.” Several border state Republicans have also said previously that such a wall would be ineffective.
But even that progress could be undone if outgoing party members continue to dodge votes, and Democrats, who have pointedly rejected any bill to fund the president’s border wall, refuse to sign on.
“I don’t understand why people don’t come to work and work all the way through December when the taxpayers are paying them,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) said, speaking with the Times Sunday. “I mean, finish your job.”
Schumer, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, suggested the remaining Republicans protect themselves and “tell President Trump he’s off the deep end here” by targeting Democrats.
“All he is going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown. He will not get a wall,” Schumer said.