President Donald Trump sought Tuesday to pressure Democratic congressional leaders into supporting his demand for billions of dollars to build his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was left stunned by Trump’s plan.
Congress will fund the wall one way or another, Trump announced. Either Schumer agrees to build it… or as commander-and-chief, Trump will order the military build it “if Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country.”
Trump tweeted the threat hours before Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi were to meet with Trump at the White House in an effort to avert a possible partial government shutdown on Dec. 21, when funding for some agencies is scheduled to expire.
In a series of tweets Tuesday, Trump said immigration and border patrol agents and thousands of active-duty service members he sent to the border have done a “FANTASTIC” job. But he said “A Great Wall would be, however, a far easier & less expensive solution.”
Trump said he looked forward to meeting with Schumer and Pelosi, but claimed they don’t want border security for “strictly political reasons.”
“If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!” Trump said.
Schumer and Pelosi said Monday that Republicans have the power to keep the government open since they control Congress and the White House.
Sponsored: How well do you know our last 7 Presidents?
“Our country cannot afford a Trump Shutdown,” they said in a statement, adding that Trump “knows full well that his wall proposal does not have the votes to pass the House and Senate and should not be an obstacle to a bipartisan agreement.”
Republican congressional leaders have repeatedly said it’s up to Trump to cut a deal with Democrats, an acknowledgment of their inability to produce spending bills with Republican votes alone.
Before lawmakers adjourn for the year they also may consider a bipartisan criminal justice reform bill, a bill to protect special counsel Robert Mueller and a plan to overhaul the system for handling sexual harassment complaints on Capitol Hill.
By far, the biggest unresolved issue is the border wall. Trump wants the next funding package to include at least $5 billion for it, an idea Democrats have flatly rejected.
Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a bill that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Sept. 30. The homeland bill includes about $1.3 billion for fencing and other security measures at the border.
The ONLY Water You Should Drink If You’re 65+ [sponsored]
Trump said Friday that Congress should provide all the money he wants for the wall and called illegal immigration a “threat to the well-being of every American community.” At an appearance in Kansas City, Missouri, Trump accused Democrats of playing a political game and said he ultimately would win.
“I actually think the politics of what they’re doing is very bad for them,” Trump said of Democrats. “We’re going to very soon find out. Maybe I’m not right. But usually I’m right.”
Schumer said Democrats want to work with Trump to avert a shutdown, but said money for border security should not include the concrete wall Trump has envisioned.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Democrats are only playing politics.
If there’s a better way to secure the border than the $5 billion plan Trump has laid out, Democrats “need to come with an alternative,” Scalise said Monday on Fox News Channel.
Declassified: Russia’s athlete’s secret [sponsored]
“They can’t come and say they want to shut the government down for no reason because they don’t want border security,” Scalise said. “They’ll lose that argument with the American people.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article