Trump Sticks By His Wall Tantrum and Shuts Down the Government [UPDATED]

Photo: Win McNamee (Getty Images)

Update, Saturday, 3:38 p.m.: A Saturday Senate session has adjourned with no new deal on ending a partial government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said no new sessions are planned until Thursday, Dec. 27, USA Today reported. McConnell, however, could call a new session before that if a deal is reached.

Trump, predictably, went on a Twitter rant, bragging about winning “one of the greatest [elections] of all time” and renewing calls for “a great Steel Barrier or Wall.” No word yet on how shutting down the U.S. government would force the Mexican government to pay for the wall or the steel fence or whatever it is.

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President Donald Trump’s insistence on having his own border wall or fence or whatever xenophobic vanity project he can build for $5.7 billion has delivered the third shutdown in two years by a Republican-controlled government.

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That means that just in time for the holidays, nine federal departments and several other agencies will cease working, 380,000 federal workers will be sent home without pay, and another 420,000 will be made to work without pay, The New York Times reported. Among those forced to work without pay are Border Patrol officers, the newspaper observed.

On Friday night, Trump posted a last-minute video on his Twitter account stirring fear over the usual suspects, including “drugs…pouring in” and “gangs like MS 13,” adding that, “The only thing that’s going to stop that is great border security with a wall or a slat fence or whatever you want to call it.”

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Earlier in the day, following passage by House Republicans of last-minute wall-funding legislation, Trump tried to blame Democrats for the shutdown, despite previously—and very publicly—telling incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer that he alone would shoulder the blame for a shutdown.

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Schumer stuck to his guns, though, making Trump appear vulnerable and weak. “You’re not getting the wall today, next week or on Jan. 3 when Democrats take control of the House,” the Democratic leader said on the Senate floor, the Times reported.

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Trump also tried to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to use the “nuclear option” to lower the number of votes needed to pass legislation from 60 to 51, but that didn’t work, either.

Now, it’s anyone’s guess how long the impasse will last. On Friday, Trump said the shutdown could go on for a “very long time,” according to The Washington Post. Later, in the video, he said, “The shutdown hopefully will not last long.”

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Referring to signals earlier in the week that the president might work to avoid a shutdown, the Post noted:

Republicans were frustrated by the reversal, and Democrats warned Friday that the president’s erratic and unvetted decisions in recent days were unsettling financial markets, foreign allies and even members of his Cabinet.

“This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right? And so, how do you deal with that?” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn). “You have two talk radio hosts who completely flipped the president. And so, do we succumb to tyranny of talk radio hosts?”

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Negotiating with lawmakers on behalf of the president were Vice President Mike Pence, incoming White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. But none of them could reach a deal, according to the Times, due to “the president’s refusal to budge on the wall.”

Nicely done, Mr. Art of the Deal.

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