President Trump takes the stage to address the event on the U.S.-Mexico border security proposal, in support of his border wall, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Trump criticized the House Democratic leadership’s efforts to pass a $2.7 trillion spending package as he attempted to score a political win on the eve of the midterm elections, declaring that he would “sue them for wasting my time.”
At a campaign-style rally at a high school in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Tuesday, the president took direct aim at Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House and one of his most prominent Democratic opponents.
He had previously called on Republicans to “stop wasting their time” on “ridiculous” votes on a bill to keep the government open until Dec. 7 or extend a temporary spending bill until Dec. 7. But after the party in power in Congress, which has passed several funding packages without Republican votes, proposed to avert a government shutdown until then, Trump said he would sign the bill and suggested he would sue for the cost to taxpayers.
“If we can sue them for wasting our time, we will,” Trump said. “You know why? I won that trade war; it was hard, but we won. I won that trade war. We lost this one, but we’re winning. If we can sue them for wasting our time, we will.”
Lawmakers in both parties spent part of Tuesday working to pass an appropriations package that would keep the government open in December. The bill would keep funds flowing into the government for a month, but it has no force of law and could fall apart in the coming days should the House and Senate not bring it to a vote.
Senate Democrats demanded in a budget amendment released late Monday that they be given a one-week extension so that they could vote on the bill, since it had bipartisan support, and Republican leaders agreed to allow the vote.
The White House said on Tuesday afternoon that Trump would likely sign the deal.
The bill, which passed the House 256-167 on Tuesday, includes $5.7 billion for the wall, half of which must be provided by 2019 and would authorize work on the border wall in areas of active construction already underway, among other provisions. The vote is scheduled for Thursday.
Trump promised the crowd that the bill would cost Republicans “maybe double what we owe you on Election Day, if that’s possible,” so that he could “fight for the money,” but said he would pass the bill and argue in court that he hadn’t been constitutionally prohibited from funding the wall.
Democrats, for their part, argued that the bill failed to protect a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient, or “Dreamer,” in order to collect more political points.
“Tonight’s vote, the last vote of the year, makes crystal clear that Democrats will block any federal funding for a Trump-Pence Wall. This is a victory for the Dreamers, for immigrants, for their families, and for all Americans who do not want to welcome a wall that could hurt our economy and border security,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat and outspoken opponent of a border wall.
As the president spoke, he openly clashed with Republican leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., repeatedly attacking the spending bill and Senate Republican leaders for failing to bring the previous budget packages to a vote.
“We did the right thing, we brought the wall up, all we did was get shut down for seven weeks. Which is sad and pathetic,” Trump said, setting up McConnell for one of the more momentous moments of the president’s truncated tenure in the Senate.
“It’s called ‘Let’s avoid a shutdown,’ it’s called ‘Let’s not waste people’s time.’ I got elected to get things done,” Trump said. “So I know this sounds like a great political idea, but we can’t do that anymore, because we’ve become so partisan.”