Trump Congress Battle it Out Over U.S. Government Shutdown

Published January 10th, 2019 - 10:02 GMT
U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd R), Sen. Joni Ernst (R) on January 09, 2019. (AFP/File Photo)
U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence flanked by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd R), Sen. Joni Ernst (R) on January 09, 2019. (AFP/File Photo)

President Donald Trump walked out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, calling discussions on a path to reopening the government a "total waste of time."

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York told reporters Trump ended the closed-door meeting in the Situation Room after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she would not agree to funding a border wall.

"He just got up and said we have nothing to discuss, and he walked out," Schumer said. "... He just walked out of the meeting."

Pelosi said the meeting didn't last long.

Trump confirmed he walked out of the meeting, which also included Republican leaders.

"Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!" he tweeted.

Schumer described Trump's actions as a "temper tantrum" and "unbecoming of a president."

Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump was open to Democrats' suggestion that they reopen the government before negotiations continue on the border wall funding. He said the president left the meeting when Pelosi would not promise to approve wall funding after the government reopened.

"When she said 'no' the president said 'goodbye,'" Pence said.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California said the Democratic leaders were argumentative during the discussion, saying Pelosi argued over whether there was truly a crisis at the border.

"Schumer began to raise his voice," McCarthy said. "The way they displayed the meeting is embarrassing."

The meeting came after Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had lunch at the Capitol with Senate Republicans. Trump was expected to shore up support from members of his party before returning to the White House for the bipartisan meeting.

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke about the shutdown and the fight over funding for a border wall during a signing for a human trafficking bill.

He told reporters he's still considering declaring a national emergency so he can build the wall without congressional support.

"I think we might work a deal, and if we don't we might go that route," Trump said, adding that he has the "absolute right" to do so.

Pence and Nielsen, who both attended the afternoon White House meeting, both described the southern border as a crisis.

The vice president called it a "bonafide emergency" and Nielsen said there's a need for more security at and between official ports of entry.

The impasse centers around $5.7 billion Trump wants to fund a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The House and Senate passed a new stopgap funding bill without the wall money he sought by Dec. 21, but the president refused to sign the legislation.

The newly Democrat-controlled House is refusing to add the funding into its legislation.

The shutdown has left 800,000 federal employees on furlough or working without pay.

Trump addressed the funding dispute Tuesday night in his first primetime address from the Oval Office. He said he issued a proposal that includes a request for technology to recognize various types of contraband, including drugs and weapons, at the border, more agents and judges to press lawful migration requests, humanitarian assistance, and medical support.

He added the proposal also includes a request to close "loopholes" to return immigrant children home "safely and humanely."

Trump's proposal also includes the wall, which he described as a steel barrier rather than the concrete wall he campaigned on.

"This barrier is absolutely critical to border security," he said.

Pelosi, who, along with Schumer, gave a rebuttal to Trump's speech Tuesday night, said Wednesday that the shutdown us threatening services Americans count on.

Some National Parks closed down or have limited services and screening at airports have been affected by Transportation Security Administration agents -- forced to work without pay -- have called in sick.

However, food stamps recipients won't lose their benefits and the IRS will continue to issue tax refund checks amid the shutdown.

A deadline passed at midnight Tuesday for federal workers to be paid next week, meaning affected government workers will miss their first paycheck since the shutdown. The earliest they can be paid now is Jan. 26.

"This is so sad. When you multiply these federal workers by their family members -- the people they love who rely on their steady paycheck to survive -- you get a better sense of the pain caused by the #TrumpShutdown," Schumer tweeted Wednesday morning.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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