- Top Republican lawmakers created an image of an unwavering Trump in comments over multiple television appearances Sunday morning amid a record-breaking government shutdown.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham lead the charge, saying previously proposed deals to fund the wall were unacceptable, and Trump was “not going to give in.”
- House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise criticized Democratic leadership, saying he hadn’t seen any recent counter-offers to Trump’s plans that would re-open the government.
- The comments come as Trump has issued near-daily calls for further negotiations with Democratic leadership, despite multiple meetings throughout the shutdown.
Top Republican lawmakers have doubled down on President Donald Trump’s demands for a border wall and decision to enact a partial government shutdown until a deal is reached.
The central issue in the record-breaking shutdown is Trump’s demands for $5 billion for the construction of a wall along the southern border. The demand has caused congressional gridlock, which gave way to the longest shutdown in American history.
Sen. Lindsey Graham said on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump is “not going to give in,” because Democrats had not proposed any appropriate alternative deals.
Graham, who has said he would support Trump declaring a national emergency to help fund the wall, criticized Democrats who have condemned Trump’s proposed wall but previously voted in favor of constructing barriers along the southern border.
“It really does perplex me how you expect this to end when you tell the president of the United States, ‘you get $1 for a wall when in the past Democrats have appropriated billions for the wall,'” Graham said.
Democrats have agreed to a budget bill that would secure funds for border security. They rejected the notion of providing $5.7 billion to fund Trump’s proposed wall.
According to Govtrack, 59% of Senate Democrats (including Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer) voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which allowed fencing to be built along much of the US-Mexico border. In the House, however, only 31% of Democrats voted for the bill. Rep. Nancy Pelosi voted against it.
Graham’s statement harkens back to joking comments from Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier this month, when she said Democrats would not agree to a border wall but that she would agree to allow $1 for it.
“A dollar?” Pelosi said when asked if it was possible she would accept $1 as the wall’s funding. “A dollar. One dollar, yeah, one dollar.”
“What’s he supposed to do, just give in?” Graham added. “He’s not going to give in.”
House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise said he knew of “many times” where Trump was “willing to negotiate” on not only the “definition of a wall” but also “how much it would cost.” However, Durbin said, neither Pelosi nor Sen. Chuck Schumer have “put a counter offer on the table”
House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise: "Many times I've seen the president willing to negotiate on the definition of a wall" and "how much it would cost" but "not one single time" have Pelosi or Schumer "put a counter offer on the table" https://t.co/K8cZRdIFIG #ThisWeek pic.twitter.com/J3Eud9aYpo
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) January 13, 2019
Scalise added that Trump wants congressional lawmakers to resolve the gridlock, though he has floated the idea of declaring a national emergency to force a solution.
“Clearly the president’s got authority under law but he’s said he doesn’t want it to come to that,” Scalise said. “He wants Congress to solve this problem. Congress needs to solve this problem.”
Scalise’s comments came just before Trump tweeted he was “in the White House, waiting” as Democrats “are having fun and not even talking!”
Schumer said last week his meeting with Pelosi and Trump ended abruptly when they said they wouldn’t support the wall and Trump “just got up and walked out.” Schumer and Pelosi have reportedly taken the position that no funding can be allocated for the wall.
Sen. Ron Johnson said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that the next steps to any possible negotiation were not easily predicted, because Trump is “not a traditional president,” and his “unorthodox” negotiations with other lawmakers haven’t gone as planned.
“This is not a traditional president. He has unorthodox means but he is President of the United States. It’s pretty much up to him in terms of who he wants to read into his conversations with world leaders,” GOP @SenRonJohnson says. #CNNSOTU https://t.co/apNFwVdKQZ pic.twitter.com/93OYgFCgl5
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) January 13, 2019
Though Johnson said he was pushing for the wall to be built, he hopes Trump will refrain from declaring a national emergency, which would likely set off a tangle of legal challenges.
“If we do that, it’s going to go to court and the wall won’t get built,” Johnson said. “I want to see this wall get built. I want to keep pressure on Democrats to come to the negotiating table in good faith and fund what they have supported in the past.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, a high-ranking Democrat from Illinois, pointed to Republican lawmakers as the most probable solution to gridlock. Durbin said on ABC’s “This Week” that “one phone call” to Trump from Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell could set off discussions to re-open the government.
The shutdown over a project that originated in Trump’s 2016 campaign has forced 800,000 federal workers and millions of federal contract employees to go without pay for three weeks, and disrupted government services across the country.