President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had a heated exchange in front of reporters at the White House.
WASHINGTON — Americans have a clear message to Washington as the government hurtles toward a partial shutdown on Friday: Don’t.
By a double-digit margin, 54 percent to 29 percent, those surveyed in a new USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll say they oppose the shutdown that President Trump has threatened if Congress doesn’t agree to his demand for $5 billion in funding for a border wall.
Who would bear the blame?
By nearly 2-1, Americans would blame Trump and the Republicans, not congressional Democrats. Forty-three percent would blame the president and the GOP, while 24 percent would hold congressional Democrats responsible. Thirty percent would blame both sides equally responsible.
“Completely, it’s Donald Trump’s fault,” says Dave Dobrin, 60, a retired computer programmer from Orange County, Calif., who was among those surveyed. A political independent, he voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. “He has the emotional maturity of a 6-year-old, and he is going to have a tantrum if he doesn’t get his way.”
But Dwayne Pyle, 33, a Republican who voted for Trump, says the need for a wall to secure the southern border is crucial and blames Democrats for refusing to cooperate with the president. “We hired him to do a job,” said Pyle, of Redding, Calif., who works in sewer-line maintenance. “We didn’t hire him to make everybody happy or appease people.”
There is, unsurprisingly, a sharp partisan divide about attitudes toward the shutdown.
Democrats are almost universally opposed to it, 83 percent-6 percent. Independents are also overwhelmingly against the idea, 56 percent to 22 percent. But two-thirds of Republicans support a shutdown; one in five oppose it.
The blame game also has a partisan cast.
Democrats (81 percent of them) place the blame on Republicans. Republicans (58 percent of them) place the blame on Democrats. And independents (43 percent of them) place more blame on both parties equally than on either individually.
The nationwide survey of 1,000 registered voters, taken by landline and cell phone Tuesday through Sunday, has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.
The partial shutdown, which would begin three days before Christmas, would be the third since Trump took office two years ago.
At the moment, there seems to be no clear plan to avoid the shutdown that looms at midnight Friday for the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies. Trump declared at a White House meeting with Democratic congressional leaders last week that he would be “proud” to take responsibility for shutting down the government if Congress refused to approve the funding he wants for a wall.
But that proposal almost certainly can’t command the 60 votes it would need to pass the Senate. Even approval in the Republican-controlled House isn’t assured.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Republicans to persuade Trump to back down. “They just have to have the guts to tell President Trump he’s off the deep end here and all he is going to get with his temper tantrum is a shutdown,” Schumer said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “He will not get a wall.”
But Stephen Miller, a senior White House aide, showed no signs of compromise. “We’re going to do whatever is necessary to build the border wall to stop this ongoing crisis of illegal immigration,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” Including a shutdown? “If it comes to it, absolutely.”
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