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McConnell Warns against Shutdown after Trump Spars with Dems

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., November 14, 2018. (Aaron P. Bernstein/REUTERS)

Just minutes after President Trump and Democratic leaders held television audiences spellbound with an acrimonious spat in the Oval Office, Senator Mitch McConnell warned that a partial government shutdown would not help Republicans.

“I hope that’s not where we end up. I understand it was a rather spirited meeting,” the Senate majority leader said when Republican lawmakers addressed reporters after the Oval Office contretemps.

“One thing I think is pretty clear no matter who precipitates the government shutdown is the American people don’t like it,” McConnell said. “I hope that will be avoided and both sides understand that’s not a great way to end what in my opinion has been the most successful Congress, right of center.”

Several government agencies, including the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security, and Justice, are scheduled to run out of money on December 21 if Congress cannot agree on legislation to continue funding the government. About 300,000 federal workers will be furloughed if a shutdown occurs.

The sticking point in the negotiations is Trump’s long-promised wall on the southern border: Democrats have offered to renew the $1.6 billion for border security they agreed to last year, while Trump is asking for $5 billion to build the wall.

“There are no votes in the House, a majority of votes, for a wall,” House minority leader Nancy Pelosi said during the Oval Office meeting with Trump and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday. “We do not want to shut down the government,” Schumer added. “You have called 20 times to shut down the government.”

“I’ll take it,” Trump told the New York senator. “I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck.”

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We had substantial disagreements but recognize that he will be remembered for a long, consequential career of service to a country that he loved.