President Trump drew sharp criticism from top Democratic lawmakers Wednesday for threatening to let the federal government shut down if Congress fails to provide substantial funding for his U.S.-Mexico border wall.
"Make no mistake: the president said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective, and expensive border wall," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement.
Pelosi's criticism harkens back to the 2013 government shutdown, when she slammed Republicans as "anti-government ideologues" for launching a revolt against Obamacare that forced Washington into shutdown mode for more than two weeks.
At the time, the San Francisco Democrat said GOP lawmakers were behaving like "legislative arsonists," seeking to "burn down what we should be building up in terms of investments and education and scientific research, and all that it is that makes our country great and competitive."
"The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs," Pelosi said Wednesday, adding Democrats "will stand fast" against funding for the wall.
At a fiery rally on Tuesday, Trump promised the crowd he will build a barrier along the Southern border even "if we have to close down our government." While his supporters cheered at the comment, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 63 points.
The president's shutdown threat came hours after he toured a section of the border in Yuma, Ariz. on Tuesday with local law enforcement officials who have struggled to control the flow of illicit drugs and immigrants.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who has cast a wall along the U.S.-Mexico frontier as "divisive and unnecessary," argued Wednesday that shutting down the government would be a wildly unpopular and pointless move.
"If the President pursues this path, against the wishes of both Republicans and Democrats, as well as the majority of the American people, he will be heading towards a government shutdown which nobody will like and which won't accomplish anything," Schumer contended.
House Republicans passed a package of spending bills late last month that included a $1.6 billion down payment for the president's border wall. However, Senate Democrats are likely to torpedo the measure when the upper chamber takes up the legislation next month.