Donald Trump said in a televised meeting with Democratic leaders last month that he would be proud to shut down the federal government in a bid for border wall funding and that he would alone take responsibility for the shutdown.
Now, as the shutdown has stretched for nearly two weeks, Trump has changed his tune.
In a tweet sent just hours before Democrats are set to take control of the House of Representatives, Trump claimed that the shutdown was the fault of Democrats, saying they see it as a campaign tactic for the 2020 presidential election.
“The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election,” he wrote. “The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of ‘Trump,’ so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!”
Trump had met again with Democrats this week in a bid to re-open the government, though neither side has shown any willingness to budge from their stances. The shutdown started on December 22 after Trump reversed course on a pledge to sign a bipartisan funding bill that temporarily kept the government open. Amid growing pressure from the more conservative members of Congress and from normal allies like Fox News, Trump went back on the pledge and vowed not to sign any bill that did not include $5.6 billion in funding for the border wall.
In doing so, Trump has moved away from members of his own party and even his own administration. Late last year, Vice President Mike Pence had signaled to Democrats that the White House would accept a $2.5 billion figure that included both border wall funding and immigration reform, but Trump said he would not accept that offer.
“No, not $2.5 billion, no. We’re asking for $5.6 billion. And you know, if somebody said $2.5 billion, no,” Trump said (via CNN).
Democrats have been equally intractable in their stance not to offer any border wall funding. Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said this week that her caucus had no plans to offer Trump the border wall funding he was demanding.
“We can go through the back and forth,” Pelosi said in an interview on the Today show. “No. How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall.”
Donald Trump told a group of lawmakers he can't accept Democrats' offer to re-open the government as the two sides negotiate border wall funding because he "would look foolish if I did that," according to a person familiar with the exchange.#FoolishTrump https://t.co/Yx2qYCzoJL— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) January 3, 2019
But Nancy Pelosi and Democrats did plan to pass legislation that would re-open the government, the same one that had earned bipartisan support before the shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that his caucus will not pass any legislation that Trump will not sign, however.