Schumer: Republicans Must Help Pull The President Back From The Brink Of A Trump Shutdown

December 12, 2018

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor (at approximately 10:00 a.m.) regarding his meeting yesterday at the White House with Leader Pelosi and President Trump.  Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:

 First, Mr. President, let me add my words of fond farewell to the senior senator from Utah. Back in the good old days, we worked on a whole lot of things together and the place was a little less partisan; immigration, patens, so many other things and he was a fine legislator, fine craftsman, and I wish he and his entire large, beautiful, family the best as he retires. I would also like to note that Leader McConnell talked about the good bipartisan work we created on the farm bill, did something good for his state; something he cared about for a long time. I hope the leader, and I’ll talk more about this later, will use the same bipartisan spirit and help us deal with the appropriation bills that are still waiting our agreement.

Now, let me talk a little about yesterday afternoon. Yesterday, Leader Pelosi and I met with President Trump about funding the government past next week.

We gave the president two options to keep the government open: first option, pass the six bipartisan appropriations bills and a 1-year CR for DHS only, or if they don’t like that one, a 1-year CR for the rest of government. We told the president that both of these options would pass both chambers. It was his choice to either accept one of those two options or shut the government down.

Yesterday, unfortunately, it was clear that the president is clinging to his position of billions of dollars for an unnecessary, ineffective border wall. President Trump will soon realize that his position will not result in a wall, but will result in a Trump shutdown.

And he seems to relish the idea, amazingly enough. The president has called for a shutdown at least 20 times since he came into office. You can add at least another 5 or 6 more times to that number from our meeting. Here’s a direct quote from President Trump yesterday: “if we don't get what we want, one way or the other…I,” President Trump, “will shut down the government.” President Trump said, “I am proud to shut down the government. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you [meaning Democrats] for it...I will take the mantle of shutting it down.”

It was astounding that any president, even this one, would say that. No president should ever say that he or she would be “proud” to shut the government down. No president should so glibly use the American government, and the millions of workers who work so hard as a bargaining chip. But that’s where President Trump is heading. President Trump made clear that he will hold parts of the government hostage for a petty campaign pledge to fire up his base. That is all it is. He never researched the wall. He talked about it on the campaign and said, “Oh, Mexico will pay for it.” If President Trump holds to this position, that unless he gets his wall he will shut down the government, who will suffer needlessly? The American people. 

Of course, Leader Pelosi and I had to spend much of the meeting trying to untie the knots in logic the president was tying himself in. President Trump started by bragging about how great border security is going under his watch (and that by the way is with no wall!). If it were truly the case, as the president said, that border security is better than it’s ever been, what’s wrong with another year of the same funding? If things are going so great, why does he need another $5 billion? It makes no sense. And none of it is based in fact.

Mr. President, there is no wall. Mr. President, Mexico has not agreed to pay for it. None of that is true, and it is difficult if nearly impossible to negotiate with a president, in front of the press, who peddles such blatant and dangerous falsehoods.

And because Leader Pelosi and I didn’t simply go along with him, President Trump threw a temper tantrum and promised to shut down the government unless he got what he wanted. Evidently, the Trump temper tantrum continued even after the meeting with news reports saying he threw papers around the White House in frustration. And why did it continue? Because someone finally spoke truth to power. Someone finally contradicted him when he throws around blatant falsehoods on such a regular basis. 

The president is so used to obsequious advisors who fail to dispel his false and made-up facts that he lives in a cocoon of his own mistruth. Leader Pelosi and I had to tell him ‘no, Mr. President that’s not true,’ we had to puncture that cocoon, and he threw a tantrum because of it.

It’s unfortunate that we’ve arrived at this point. The president’s advisors should have been telling the president the truth a long time ago. And too many, unfortunately, of my Republican colleagues seem too afraid to tell the president when he’s wrong. Even when they know he’s wrong. They find it’s easier to either throw up their hands and wait for someone else to solve the problem, or capitulate and agree with the president.

At the moment, Senator McConnell, the Majority Leader of this body, and my friend is staying as far away as he can from the year-end spending fight. We didn’t hear a peep about it today. Leader McConnell says he doesn’t want a shutdown but he refuses to engage with the president to tell him what’s transparently obvious to everyone else: there will be no additional money for the wall. We need to pass a continuing resolution, for DHS or for all the remaining agencies, to keep the government open.

Leader McConnell has an obligation here as Majority Leader and that is to help persuade President Trump to take one of the two options we offered. The idea that Senator McConnell has nothing to do with appropriations, as Majority Leader of the Senate, who is still on that committee does not withstand the slightest scrutiny.

And if unfortunately, if the president refuses to compromise, Leader McConnell will not be able to avoid this issue. In the unfortunate event that President Trump causes a shutdown, the Democratic House will come into power on January 3rd and pass one of our two options to fund the government and then it will fall right back in Leader McConnell’s lap.

My view for whatever it’s worth to him, better to solve this now cause you’re going to be stuck with it two weeks from now after an unfortunate government shutdown caused by your president if we don’t act now. So if I were a Republican, I would get involved right now and help pull the president back from the brink. Democrats have given him two, reasonable options. We’ve made it crystal clear that Democrats are for keeping the government open. We have no demands beyond that. Only the president does.

So if President Trump wants to continue his temper tantrum ahead of the holidays and cause a shutdown, it is now so clear it is solely on his back. We hope the president chooses one of the reasonable options we gave him yesterday, and we hope the country can avoid a Trump shutdown.