President Trump will not commit to signing legislation that would avoid a partial government shutdown on Saturday, his press secretary said, further roiling a chaotic debate that is splintering the Republican Party.
“At this moment, the President does not want to go further without border security, which includes steel slats or a wall. The President is continuing to weigh his options,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday in a statement.
The tumultuous turn of events has seen Trump reverse himself numerous times in recent days on the issue, first demanding $5 billion from Congress for a wall along the Mexico border, then declaring the military would pay for it, only to insist that the money come from Democrats next year.
As talks appeared to break down Thursday, senior Republicans in Congress even appeared unsure of what Trump actually wanted before he would sign legislation. The breakdown has prompted a hastily arranged meeting between Trump and House Republicans at noon Thursday.
The Senate unanimously passed a spending bill Wednesday night that would fund many federal agencies through February 8, following days of acrimony after Democrats refused to advance any new funding for a wall along the Mexico border.
House Republican leaders had hoped to advance an identical measure on Thursday morning, but they were met with an insurrection from some of their most conservative members and a blizzard of negative coverage from right-wing media outlets. That led Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to cancel a press conference and head to the White House for a meeting with Trump over how to proceed.
Last week, Trump told Democrats he would be “proud” to shut down the government if they refused to give him $5 billion for the construction of a wall along the Mexico border. Democrats held firm and prevented such a bill from advancing in Congress, leading GOP leaders to backtrack and instead pursue a short-term spending bill that would avoid a shutdown and delay further debate until February.