Tensions among House Republicans reached a boiling point Wednesday night less than 12 hours before a potential partial government shutdown amid sharply differing views about what to do next.
Members of the conference bickered during a closed-door meeting in the Capitol for more than 90 minutes, just two days after President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders failed to find a spending deal or a way to avoid a partial shutdown.
The president reportedly suggested that he would be willing to take the blame for a shutdown he caused in pursuit of billions of dollars for a border wall, according to some Republicans in the meeting, as he urged them to keep fighting for the wall funding.
He also suggested that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should use the nuclear option if Democrats tried to block the wall funding in the Senate. The nuclear option would allow them to pass a spending bill without Democratic support, with a simple majority.
Meanwhile, Speaker Paul Ryan was forced to remind Republicans that they have the majority and should act like it by passing a spending bill that would keep the government running until February.
But some Republicans, led by House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, argued that it was too late to pass a spending bill since a shutdown is likely to happen in the next few hours. Meadows instead called on the conference to support a short-term stopgap bill that would protect immigration agents and add more money for border security without the wall funding.
Other Republicans agreed that the stopgap bill could be a way out of the fight, but the conservative Freedom Caucus factions argued that the U.S. should stand firm on the wall.
At the end of the meeting, it was unclear whether the chaos of the legislative situation will lead to a resolution or a shutdown by midnight.