Washington, Jan 6:
White House officials and congressional aides emerged from talks aimed at ending a partial government shutdown over President Donald Trump’s demands for border wall funding without a breakthrough Saturday, though they planned to return to the table the following day.
Trump tweeted: “Not much headway made today.” Democrats agreed there had been little movement, saying the White House did not budge on the demand for $5.6 billion and would not consider re-opening the government.
The White House said funding was not discussed in-depth, but the administration was clear they needed funding for a wall and that they wanted to resolve the shutdown all at once.
Accusations flew after the more than two-hour session led by Vice President Mike Pence.
Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in an interview aired on CNN, accused Democrats of being there to “stall.” Democrats familiar with the meeting said the White House position was “untenable.” A White House official also said the meeting included a briefing on border security by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Democrats sought written details from the Department of Homeland Security on their budget needs, which the White House said it would provide. The group plans to meet again Sunday.
With talks stalled, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Saturday that House Democrats plan to start approving individual bills to reopen shuttered departments starting with Treasury to ensure Americans receive their tax returns.
“While President Trump threatens to keep the government shut down for ‘years’, Democrats are taking immediate further action to re-open government, so that we can meet the needs of the American people, protect our borders and respect our workers,” Pelosi said.
Trump, who did not attend the discussions, spent the morning tweeting about border security.
Showing little empathy for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers furloughed or working without pay, Trump declared without citing evidence that most are Democrats.
He also asserted: “I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?” One Democrat, Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, said in his party’s weekly radio address that the shutdown “is part of a larger pattern of a president who puts his personal whims and his effort to score political points before the needs of the American people. … He is pointing fingers at everyone but himself.” Trump and Democratic leaders met for roughly two hours Friday, but gave differing accounts of the session. Democrats reported little progress; Trump framed the weekend talks as a key step forward.
As the shutdown drags on, some Republicans are growing increasingly nervous. Some GOP senators up for re-election in 2020, including Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, who has tried to broker deals to end past stalemates, have voiced discomfort with the shutdown in recent days.
Sen Thom Tillis of North Carolina penned an op-ed for The Hill, arguing that Congress should end the shutdown and make a deal on border security and immigration reforms.
In calling on Trump to reopen government while negotiations on border security continue, Democrats have emphasized families unable to pay bills due to absent paychecks. But Trump has repeatedly said he will not budge without money for the wall.