Although President Donald Trump has previously suggested the Republican Party is “united” on the fundamental issues behind the continuing government shutdown, reality does not match his suppositions.
Moods were clearly souring during a Thursday luncheon of Republican U.S. Senators, according to two Republicans who were in the room during the private meal. One senator directly confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, placing the blame for the shutdown — as well as anger from constituents across the country — on him.
“This is your fault,” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said, according to reporting from the Washington Post.
McConnell was fast to respond to Johnson’s accusations. “Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?” the majority leader said.
Johnson’s spokesman Ben Voelkel confirmed the confrontation occurred, and said that Johnson was expressing his dismay with the lingering crisis.
Earlier in the week, Johnson was fast to put the blame for the shutdown on someone else: Trump, whom Johnson pointed out to reporters had previously said he would take ownership of the crisis.
“And I think he’s being given credit for it as well,” Johnson said, per reporting from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
— WPR (@WPR) January 23, 2019
Also present at the Republican luncheon was Vice President Mike Pence. The senators were apparently eager to vent to him as well.
“Nobody was blaming the president. But there was a lot of frustration expressed about the situation we find ourselves in,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
The alleged confrontations by Republican senators against the leadership of their own party runs counter to the narrative that the Trump administration has been trying to push forward in recent days. Despite tempers flaring and a clear opposition to the shutdown from the American public, Trump tweeted out on Tuesday that Republicans stood behind his decision to refuse funding for the government overall until it included appropriations to build a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
“Never seen @senatemajldr and Republicans so united on an issue as they are on the Humanitarian Crisis & Security on our Southern Border,” Trump tweeted out on Tuesday.