President Donald Trump met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday. The animated trio, observed by the press and a silent Vice President Mike Pence, debated funding for the President’s border wall, breaking away from the traditionally staid feel of an Oval Office press spray.
It was a preview of what we might expect in January, when Democrats take over the House. Welcome to a world of divided government!
Pelosi and Trump disagreed on whether he could round up enough votes to push border wall funding through the House. Regardless of the fact that Republicans currently hold a majority in the House, Republicans in the Senate would need Democrats to join them to get any legislation through Congress.
“We need 10 Democrats in the Senate,” Trump said.
Pelosi said that a “Trump shutdown” would not be good for the country. This was Trump’s response when he heard that – and he asked her to clarify that she had, indeed, named the potential shutdown after him.
The President laughed off a Washington Post article that Schumer referenced regarding Trump’s estimation of a border wall’s cost. “Well, the Washington Post … ” Trump repeated, trailing off into a laugh.
He and Schumer talked over each other when the senator brought up the fact that Trump recently indicated he would be willing to shut down the government over the border wall.
“You said it,” Schumer said.
“I’ll take it,” Trump responded.
Later, the President reiterated his sentiment: “I will be the one to shut it down. I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down.”
At one point, when all three of the leaders were trying to make a point, Schumer attempted to pull back their very public disagreement.
“Let’s debate in private,” Schumer said.
Despite the clear points of conflict among the leaders, they found some common ground: “I think we all agree that we need border security,” Trump said, after minutes of sparring. Schumer nodded. The President continued, “See, we get along.”