Members of Congress who had left town for the December recess on the notion that their work was complete are returning to the Capitol in a last-minute effort to deliver on the promise of a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. A partial government shutdown is still on the table following President Trump’s renewed stance on vetoing legislation to fund government operations that fails to include the $5 billion necessary to begin construction on the border wall.
The border wall was a hallmark campaign promise of the president and Republicans during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles. The meeting was called in the aftermath of a rigorous, overnight effort by members of the House Freedom Caucus to push back on Republican leadership ready to rubber stamp the Senate action.
Conservative lawmakers pleaded with colleagues late Wednesday evening, demanding Republicans honor campaign promises of increased border security and funding for Trump’s border wall. Congressman Louie Gohmert went a step further, warning of gruesome consequences in 2020 should they fail to deliver. A barrage of television and radio appearances coupled with appeals to fellow members from the House floor seem to have been enough to stir up the conservative base of the party Thursday morning, launching a wave of calls to Republican offices on the issue.
Following a meeting with the president, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced from the White House lawn that President Donald Trump told them he would not sign any legislation funding government into the new year that did not include the $5 billion necessary to fund border wall construction.
“We want to keep the government open but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border,” Ryan said. “We have very serious concerns about securing our border.”
Majority Whip Steve Scalise told reporters shortly afterward that Republican House members were working to add the $5 billion price to the legislation before it would hit the floor, but could not say with any certainty whether the amended version would pass. Should it do so, it would still have to go back to the Senate for approval as well.
On Thursday afternoon it was reported that as many as half of the GOP senators had already left town for the December recess, further fueling speculation that a partial government shutdown is imminent.