House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi scored an absolute victory Monday on President Trump. The President had invited Pelosi and her counterpart in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, to the White House to discuss how to avoid a partial government shutdown.
Funding for Trump’s much-hyped border wall is the issue at hand. Democrats are willing to offer $1.3 billion for border security, which would maintain current funding levels for border fencing. A similar proposal offering $1.6 billion has bipartisan support in the Senate. Meanwhile, the President is demanding the American taxpayer shell out $5 billion for a border wall, which he had repeatedly promised would be paid for by Mexico. The President’s proposal has a snowball’s chance in Hell of passing the Senate and may not even have enough support to pass in the currently Republican-majority House.
While these sorts of negotiations are normally kept behind closed doors, Trump tried to ambush the Democratic duo by inviting the White House press pool. What ensued was a shouting match between the two sides. Pelosi landed an early jab, labeling the looming shutdown the “Trump shutdown,” which clearly caught the President’s attention.
During the over ten minute charade, Pelosi was talked over and down to, but she kept her cool even as Trump became increasingly unhinged, even more so than we have come to expect. Throughout the meeting, the Democrats had been trying to place blame solely on the administration while still urging the President to avoid a shutdown. Right at the end, the negotiator-in-chief gave the Democrats the soundbite they had dreamed of:
“If we don’t get what we want one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through a military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government, absolutely,” said Trump to Schumer. “And I’ll tell you what, I am proud to shut down the government… I will take the mantle, I will be the one to shut it down. I won’t blame you for it.”
Following the meeting, Trump reportedly stormed out of the Oval Office holding a folder of briefing papers and threw them across the room in a fit of blind rage. The LA Times cited an anonymous staffer who claimed the meeting set off a chaotic scramble as aides switched into what the person called “damage-control mode.”
Nancy Pelosi has been facing leadership challenges from detractors in her own party, but the day’s events earned her a wave of positive press coverage praising her leadership. In victory, a more relaxed and authentic Pelosi emerged. “It’s like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing,” she reportedly told a group of Democratic lawmakers following the meeting. “It goes to show you: You get into a tickle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”
With the constant scandals and chaos emanating from this administration, the very real prospect of a partial government shutdown hasn’t dominated headlines, but the consequences of such a shutdown are quite serious. If lawmakers and the President can’t reach an agreement by December 21, about a quarter of the federal workforce will be at risk of getting furloughed without pay in the heart of the holiday season.