Trump won’t sign current short-term funding bill, Paul Ryan says

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WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan said Thursday afternoon that President Donald Trump had told GOP lawmakers would not sign the short-term spending bill to fund the government that the Senate passed on Wednesday night.

Speaking to reporters outside the White House after a 90-minute meeting he described as “productive,” the Wisconsin Republican said that Trump will not sign the continuing resolution without provisions that address “border security.”

Ryan did not detail what the next steps would be, and whether lawmakers would still try to vote on the president’s $5 billion border wall request ahead of the Friday night deadline for Congress to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.

 

The emergency meeting Thursday had come about amid confusion over the official White House position on the short-term government funding bill.

“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 had said in a statement announcing the meeting.

People attending the meeting included Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., and former Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Ryan left a Thursday morning GOP conference meeting to take an emergency phone call from Trump, two people in the room told NBC News, with one member saying Ryan had been gone from the room for at least 20 to 30 minutes.

Minutes later, the president tweeted his disappointment with the situation. “When I begrudgingly signed the Omnibus Bill, I was promised the Wall and Border Security by leadership,” he wrote. “Would be done by end of year (NOW). It didn’t happen! We foolishly fight for Border Security for other countries – but not for our beloved U.S.A. Not good!”

The final House GOP leadership press conference originally scheduled for Thursday morning after the meeting — slated to be Ryan’s last as speaker — was canceled amid the uncertainty, officially due to upcoming votes.

One lawmaker told NBC that another member in the meeting stood up to say that Trump’s refusal to say in public he would sign the continuing has left even rank-and-file Republicans “twisting in the wind.”

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., left the session saying he felt worse about the resolution than he had going in, with member concerns ranging from the lack of disaster relief funding to continued worries over whether Trump would actually sign the measure. “I think the next few days could get complicated real fast,” he said.

Strong supporters of the president’s wall policy had seemed equally unsure whether he would sign on to the measure. That is the “million dollar question — or I should say, the $5 billion dollar question,” said Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., adding that Trump’s signature would mark a surrender on wall funding.

As Thursday began, the House was expected to vote on the bill to keep the government funded through Feb. 8 and prevent a shutdown on Saturday.

The Senate passed the continuing resolution, which excludes funding for the president’s border wall, late Wednesday after Senate Republicans introduced the measure earlier in the day and Democratic leaders said they would sign on.

Neither the president nor any White House officials had explicitly said publicly that he would sign the bill.

Trump had threatened to shut down the government if Congress doesn’t approve his request for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats made clear that they would not sign off on the request.

Earlier Thursday morning, Trump had said he wouldn’t sign Democratic legislation in the next Congress unless “it has perfect Border Security.”

He claimed in a follow-up tweet that the border is already “tight” even without the wall funding.

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