Wilting under erratic and inconsistent pressure from President Trump, the Republican-led House moved closer to a government shutdown Thursday night by passing a funding bill that includes money for a border wall and faces little prospect of passing the Senate.
The House’s 217-185 party-line vote came after Trump’s unexpected reversal earlier in the day, yanking away his support from a temporary funding bill that would have kept the government operating until February. The White House had signaled as recently as Wednesday that Trump would sign a temporary funding bill even if it did not include funding for his border wall.
With Trump signaling his support, the Senate passed a short-term funding bill Wednesday, and the House was expected to take it up before the end of the week, averting a holiday season government shutdown and a potential political disaster for Republicans, who control both chambers of Congress and the White House.
But Trump, who has claimed he would proudly own any government shutdown, pulled the rug out Thursday morning. House GOP leaders raced to the White House and emerged from a meeting with Trump convinced he would not sign a temporary funding bill without money for the wall. Instead of taking up the Senate-passed bill, House leaders advanced their own bill with wall funding.
Many senators left town after passing its funding bill, and it’s unclear whether they will return Friday to attempt to break the GOP’s self-imposed impasse. Even if senators were to return, the House-passed bill is unlikely to garner the 60 Senate votes needed to overcome Democratic opposition to wall funding.
Trump reversed direction after scathing rebukes over the past 24 hours from the House Freedom Caucus, conservative commentators and Fox News for reneging on his campaign promise of a border wall.
The descent into chaos was a fitting end to the last days of the speakership of Paul Ryan (R-WI). Promising a return to legislating in the House, Ryan proved unable to wrangle his own members or stand up to an intemperate president. After presiding over two years of soaring deficits since Trump’s election, Ryan may leave office with a government shutdown as his final act.