- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2018

President Trump lashed out at Congress Thursday, blasting lawmakers for failing to fund his border wall demands and increasing the likelihood of a partial government shutdown later in the week.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said the president informed lawmakers at a White House meeting that he will not sign a stopgap spending bill the Senate passed Wednesday that would keep the government running through Feb. 8.

Mr. Ryan said the president has “legitimate concerns” about border security.

“So what we’re going to do is go back to the House and work with our members,” Mr. Ryan said. “We want to keep the government open, but we also want to see an agreement that protects the border.”

Lawmakers have to pass new spending legislation before a midnight Friday deadline or risk a partial shutdown of government operations.

House Republicans were prepping legislation later Thursday that would extend through Feb. 8 money for federal departments that aren’t already funded for the full year.

The House version would also provide an additional $5.7 billion in 2019 for U.S. Customs and Border Protection “procurement, construction, and improvements” and additional money for disaster relief.

The Dow Jones Industrial average slumped nearly 500 points Thursday amid the uncertain signals out of Washington.

At a White House event Thursday afternoon, Mr. Trump said he planned to stay strong in the fight.

“We have to put safety first,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump suggested he was betrayed by “leadership” on Capitol Hill who had promised after another spending bill earlier this year he would get border security money.

“It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for border security for other countries - but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!” the president said via Twitter.

Before Mr. Trump met with House lawmakers, the White House had followed up with a statement saying the president was not inclined to sign the stopgap spending bill without money for border barriers.

“The president is continuing to weigh his options,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Mr. Trump, in his tweet, didn’t say which party’s “leadership” he felt betrayed him, but the GOP has been in control of Congress for the past two years, and has struggled to deliver on his demands for cash for a wall.

The president’s inconsistencies haven’t helped.

Earlier this week, the White House said it could sign a spending bill without additional money for the border fence because it was going to scrounge the cash from other agencies’ budgets.

But after fierce criticism from conservative commentators and lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the president appears to have changed that stance.

The spending bill passed the Senate by voice vote late Wednesday, suggesting lawmakers there are eager to avoid a shutdown showdown. But House conservatives are more eager to foment a blowup.

House Republicans met Thursday morning but didn’t appear to reach any conclusions.

“We had a really good meeting and candid conversation with our members. There’s a strong desire to find a way to get the president the money he needs, the tools he needs, to secure our border and build a wall,” said House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

Mr. Scalise said there are also discussions going on about disaster relief funding, which some lawmakers want to add to the spending bill.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she’d have to see what the offer would be on disaster assistance — but that her members will not support additional money for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“We’re right in the middle of a sort of a meltdown on the part of the Republicans,” she said.

Mr. Ryan had spoken with Mr. Trump by phone before the White House meeting.

Members exiting a meeting of House Republicans gave conflicting messages on whether they had gotten assurances that Mr. Trump would sign the short-term bill.

“There’s no question this would be signed,” said Rep. Chris Collins, New York Republican.

Other members said they were awaiting clearer signals from the president.

“There is definitely uncertainty about the president’s position on finding funding for a border wall,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, Alabama Republican.

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