Presenting much different accounts of a two hour meeting at the White House, President Donald Trump and Congressional leaders in Congress agreed to keep negotiating through the weekend on a funding lapse which has resulted in a partial government shutdown, the President said he told top Democrats that he was ready to wait ‘months or even years’ to get the money he wants for a wall along the border with Mexico.
“I did say that, Absolutely. I said that,” the President told reporters in the White House Rose Garden, as he said the partial government shutdown will continue until there is a broader border deal.
“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing,” the President said, saying he’s not worried about any blame for the partial shutdown, which began on December 22. “I don’t call it a shutdown.”
“We won’t be opening it until it’s solved,” Mr. Trump added.
Joining the President in the White House Rose Garden, Vice President Mike Pence said he would lead a negotiating effort through the weekend to secure an agreement on border funding and the wall, as Republicans cast the talks with Democrats as productive.
But that was a totally different description than what Democrats offered.
Before the President spoke, Democrats emerged from the White House with no optimism about either reaching a deal on border security funding, or ending the partial government shutdown.
“We really cannot resolve this until we open up government,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi characterized the meeting as ‘lengthy and sometimes contentious.’
“In fact he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time – months or even years,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said of the President.
The two hour meeting came a day after the House – now under Democratic Party control – approved two different funding bills to end the partial shutdown, and give both sides until February 8 to reach a deal related to border funding.
But on Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made clear that the House-passed bills would not be brought before the Senate for a vote, meaning the partial shutdown would continue into next week.
“The package presented by the House’s new Democratic leaders yesterday can only be seen as a time wasting act,” said McConnell, even though much of the package had already been either voted on, or agreed to, by Senators in both parties late in 2018.
“Any viable compromise will need to carry the endorsement of the President,” McConnell said, as GOP leaders don’t want to start work on a possible deal without knowing that the White House is on board.
It was just two weeks ago that the Senate voted unanimously to extend funding for about one-quarter of the federal government into February – told that the President would support the move.
Then he changed his mind on the Friday before Christmas, leading to the current funding lapse, which started December 22.