Shutdown watch: The Speaker is Missing -- and the President is Tweeting! Update: High Noon?

Okay, Paul Ryan was late for his presser, not exactly missing, but the tension over whether the government will shut down unexpectedly ramped up anyway. Last night the Senate passed a “minibus” that would keep the doors open and the lights on at several federal agencies until February 8th, and the House was expected to follow suit. However, an emergency call from the Oval Office upended those expectations, as did an emergency tweet:


Not long after calling Ryan out of his conference meeting, Trump sent out this message to his followers. It doesn’t sound as though Trump wants to sign a kick-the-can CR today after all:

After that, not only did Paul Ryan not show up for the presser, the House GOP canceled it. That certainly doesn’t indicate a smooth, orderly process to a vote and a presidential signature. Even before Ryan left the conference, the certitude on a Trump signature had lessened considerably:

The bill has been blasted by conservative lawmakers and right-wing pundits on cable news who have sway with Trump, who has thus far refused to say publicly if he will sign it.

But lawmakers on Capitol Hill have said Republican leaders have received assurances that Trump will sign the stopgap spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR).

“All indications are he’s comfortable with the clean CR,” said Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.), one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress.

But members who attended a closed-door meeting on Thursday morning said their colleagues pressed GOP leadership for more clarity on whether Trump would sign the bill, but received no guarantees.


That’s one heck of a confidence-builder, right? Earlier in the morning, Trump’s tweets indicated his unhappiness but still seemed to suggest that he’d go along with the minibus:

Two hours later, Trump called Ryan out of the caucus and sent out the defiant tweet. Trump might have been swayed by a last-ditch effort from the Freedom Caucus to deliver the border-wall funding Trump demanded:

House Republican leaders are struggling to rally their own members behind a funding bill that deprives President Donald Trump of a long-sought border wall victory, with no certainty about what he might do next.

Conservatives lashed out late Wednesday at the prospect of a kick-the-can bill that punts border funding issues into February, when they argue presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will stomp down Trump’s last chance for a wall ahead of 2020. …

“Do we actually think we’re going to build a border security wall when Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), one of the leaders of the House Freedom Caucus, said Wednesday as he introduced an 11th hour amendment to add $5 billion in wall funding to the bill. “This is our last best chance,” he said.

Now that Ryan and Trump had their tete a tete, a new effort is being made to draft a bill that includes the $5 billion. The point isn’t to get the funds, but to prove to Trump that it can’t get done, NBC’s Kasie Hunt hears from her House GOP sources:


Theoretically, that would instruct Trump on the impossibility of the demand. Would it work? Or would Trump bet that a shutdown would make Democrats bend later?

If that strategy doesn’t work, Ryan could probably get enough Democrats on board to pass the clean-CR bill easily, even without his caucus united behind it. If Trump won’t sign, though, there may not be much point — unless he and Mitch McConnell can engineer a veto override to end Trump’s first legislative session. That would be a remarkable rebuke and would create a firestorm among Republican populists. Ryan won’t be around Washington next year, but Mitch McConnell will, and so will Kevin McCarthy. If they can’t get border-wall funding between now and the next election after a veto override, look out.

So what’s next? CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins makes the easy prediction:


Here’s a better prediction for the fight ahead:

Update: Guess who’s coming to lunch?

Can they convince him to punt — or will they convince him to keep fighting? Stay tuned.

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