- Senators were forced to return to Washington after it became evident they would be required to vote again in order to prevent a partial government shutdown.
- One senator had to turn around immediately after an 11-hour flight to Hawaii.
- It is still unclear whether Trump will have enough votes for a spending bill that includes an additional $5 billion for border security and a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Days after White House officials assured lawmakers that a short term continuing resolution to fund the government was something President Donald Trump was willing to sign, Washington has been thrown into chaos with the president’s hard line that any spending must include $5 billion for additional border security, including his wall along the US-Mexico border.
The Senate had already passed their stop-gap funding bill on Wednesday, prompting Republicans and Democrats to head home for the Christmas break. When the House passed their new spending bill that included the border security funds, senators were called back to the Capitol.
Some had to return from a short flight or train ride from the midwest or along the eastern seaboard. One senator, Hawaii’s Brian Schatz, had to immediately return to Washington after flying 11 hours to Honolulu.
17 minute visit w the fam pic.twitter.com/ToRptAHUxD
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) December 21, 2018
“Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall,” Schatz wrote on Twitter upon arriving back at the Washington-Dulles airport.
Other lawmakers did not commit to returning to Washington in such a hurry, including retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee.
Corker, a frequent Trump critic whose Senate tenure ends on January 3, told reporters he was preparing to drive home to Chattanooga, Tennessee, even as Trump’s position changed and it became imminent that the Senate would have to vote again.
“Y’all have fun,” he told reporters. “I’m getting ready to drive to Chattanooga.”
“They have no guidance,” Corker added. “I saw senators heading out going home knowing that even if we vote they’re going to give folks time to get back … I think they’re just sorta swirling around over there.”
Then, early Friday morning, Trump summoned Senate Republicans to the White House for a 10:30 AM meeting, despite the fact that the key votes he needs will have to come from Democrats.
Trump also called for an elimination of the 60-vote threshold on legislation, demanding Senate Republicans put an end to the filibuster. While Trump has repeatedly blamed the filibuster for legislative failures, he renewed the call after it became clear he would need Democratic support to ensure the $5 billion for border security is attached to the spending bill.
Unless the Senate can pass the House’s version, which at the moment appears highly unlikely, the government will enter a partial shutdown at midnight.