The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

‘Wheels down ... ready to vote no on this stupid wall’: Senators reluctantly delay vacations

Before signing a criminal justice reform bill, President Trump lauded the GOP for pushing for border wall funds and went on a diatribe against Democrats. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

When senators voted Wednesday night to pass a temporary spending bill to keep the government funded through the new year, they were ready to leave behind Washington and all of its dysfunction to enjoy a brief holiday respite.

But no sooner were their bags packed, their goodbyes said and even their planes landed than President Trump and the House Republicans threw their plans into disarray. Trump decided he would accept nothing less than his full $5 billion funding for a border wall, and the House GOP voted to give it to him.

So suddenly it was on the Senate, which thought its work was done, to come back to Washington and start all over again.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) landed in Honolulu Thursday night only to turn around and take a red-eye flight back to Washington.

And then, 11 hours later:

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) had a similar experience. He landed in Texas around 5 p.m. and then took a 5:25 a.m. flight back to Washington Friday.

Meanwhile, departing lawmakers had already sealed up their offices, archived their Senate Twitter accounts and said their final goodbyes. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who lost her seat in November, carved her name on her desk on the Senate floor and filmed a final goodbye from what she believed would be her last time there as a sitting senator.

View this post on Instagram

And I’m out.

A post shared by Claire McCaskill (@clairecmc) on

But McCaskill was back at her old post Friday to vote.

As the Senate began to vote Friday afternoon, some senators were still en route to Washington. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was not expected back.

The disrupted holiday plans will probably not inspire too much sympathy from the public, given that this governing-by-crisis is getting old.

Lawmakers are also unlikely to receive very much compassion from the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who as of midnight Friday will either work without pay or be furloughed if the government shuts down.