It's not exactly a secret that the border wall has always been a touchy subject for the president, but on Dec. 11 a conversation about funding the project got really out of control. This video of Donald Trump and Democratic leaders arguing in the Oval Office about whether to shut down the government over funding for the wall proves it. What is even happening anymore?
Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met in the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss border security and government funding ahead of a possible shutdown, but the meeting had barely started before it exploded into an argument. In front of rolling cameras, Trump threatened to shut down the government over funding for his border wall, while Schumer attacked Trump for his claims about the wall and Trump jabbed at Pelosi over her bid for the Speakership with Democrats reclaim the House in January. And the whole time, Pence sat awkwardly to the side.
The whole thing started with Pelosi thanking Trump for agreeing to meet, noting on the behalf of Americans that a shut down "is not worth anything." She then told Trump that he should pass the government spending bill since he has the votes needed in the House, but he rejected the advice, telling her it won't pass in the Senate. After she pushed him to at least get it started, Trump shot back, "I don't want to waste time." From there it all went downhill. While Pelosi and Schumer urged him not to allow the debate to play out in front of the media, Trump can be heard repeatedly trying to drill a message into Pelosi's mind: "We need border security."
The conversation increasingly heated up from there, with Trump finally threatening a government shutdown if his funding demands aren't met. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security,” he declared.
“I will take the mantle,” the president added. “I will be the one shut it down, I'm not going to blame you for it.” As Pelosi and Schumer tried to chime in, Trump appeared to shut the conversation down, loudly thanking the media for its attendance. If you want to see the whole exchange here's the roller coaster ride:
Despite the jabs, Trump maintained that the conversation was a "friendly" one. Eh, believe what you want.
Lawmakers currently have a Dec. 21 deadline to avoid a partial government shutdown, however, Republicans and Democrats haven't been able to come to an agreement on how much money should be allotted for the wall. Trump is seeking $5 billion for the wall's construction, but Democrats don't want to meet that, as they've merely offered $1.3 billion for border fencing and barriers — and they clearly aren't budging.
The setback prompted a series of angry tweets from the president on Dec. 11, just hours before the meeting. After touting his efforts to increase security at the U.S. southern border (including through "newly built Walls, makeshift Walls & Fences, or Border Patrol Officers & Military") Trump took aim at Democrats for delaying the wall's full construction. His tweet read:
The Democrats, however, for strictly political reasons and because they have been pulled so far left, do NOT want Border Security. They want Open Borders for anyone to come in. This brings large scale crime and disease.
“If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall," Trump added. "They know how important it is!”
Yeahhh, good luck there. And better luck ever getting this wall built.