On Tuesday, Dec. 11, a meeting between President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders turned testy, but the vice president was strangely reserved while the drama unfolded around him. As usual, Twitter isn't holding back on its commentary. These tweets about Mike Pence are calling out the second-in-command for his odd silence during the rowdiest Oval Office meeting ever.
The Dec. 11 meeting with Trump, Pence, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was to hash out details of the government spending bill before the looming Dec. 21 deadline. If a deal that can pass both chambers of Congress hasn't gone through by that date, a government shutdown could go into effect. At issue is whether Trump will get lawmakers to agree to the additional funding he wants in order to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. But things will likely get only more difficult for him as Democrats, who largely oppose the wall, assume control of the House in January.
However, the meeting went off the rails pretty quickly, with Trump and the Democrats talking over each other and at points seeming to come close to yelling. But while the conversation between Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer grew ever more combative, Vice President Mike Pence kept exceptionally quiet. Just check out this video to see how awkward it was:
In the entire transcript published of the meeting, courtesy of The Washington Post, Pence appears not to say a single word, leading many on Twitter to joke that he'd taken a vow of silence.
Pence reportedly told CNN that the meeting went well, saying it was a "good discussion" that was "very candid," and added that it "went on quite a while" even after the media had left. So it's possible that he made a comment or two outside of reporters' earshot, but as for what we know so far, he pretty much said nothing.
Twitter also jumped on the footage from the meeting, in particular stills of the four that showed Pence with his eyes apparently closed, prompting others to joke that he'd fallen asleep.
CNN's Sam Vinograd notes that Pence, as a former member of the House (he served from 2001 to 2013), could have been more active in facilitating a less combative conversation with his old Congressional colleagues.
Other jokes included referring to Pence as the equivalent of a potted plant, and that he was akin to a grade-school kid dressed up for the Christmas play.
If you recall, Congress and the White House went through the same shutdown rigmarole at the same time last year, and a shutdown actually happened earlier this year. Then as now, the issue of the border wall became a lynchpin in the standoff in passing a spending bill. It remains all but certain whether Congress will be able to reach a deal this time around, or will be stuck scrambling to pass a short-term stop-gap bill in the interim. And Trump, in the meeting Tuesday, seemed just fine with running out the clock to get his way.
"I am proud to shut down the government for border security," Trump said during the meeting inside the Oval Office, assuring Pelosi and Schumer it would be his decision. "I will be the one to shut it down, I'm not going to blame you for it."
Following the Oval Office meeting, Pence went on to attend a lunch with members of the Senate, where he reportedly said, "there appears to be a disagreement" over the border wall, to laughter. For a potted plant, you gotta admit he's kinda funny.