White House calls Democrats' plan to end shutdown 'non-starter'

Saul Bowman
January 3, 2019

A meeting Wednesday afternoon between White House officials and congressional leaders has wrapped up with no progress made on border security funding or reopening the federal government. "We need to know who's in our communities that shouldn't be".

Roughly a quarter of the federal government and 800,000 federal employees are affected by a shutdown, which was caused by a lapse in funding for the agencies.

Trump said he was open to working on a path to legal status for hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants known as Dreamers, pointing toward a potential broader deal with Democrats that could resolve the shutdown. And if the shutdown stretches on so long that Americans start feeling the effects ― like delayed tax refunds because of a shuttered IRS, or missed flights because of TSA workers striking ― Trump and other Republicans may start getting desperate.

The partial government shutdown began on December 22 after Trump refused to sign a budget deal that didn't include billions of dollars for his long-promised and long-stalled southern border wall.

One of the President's closest allies, Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the House Democratic proposal "doesn't represent a serious attempt to secure our border or find a compromise".

Trump has refused to sign a spending bill that does not include his requested $5 billion to build his long-promised border wall.

Even if only symbolic, the passage of the bills in the House would put fresh pressure on the President. The location meant that the conversation was not televised, unlike the volatile sitdown during which Democratic leaders talked back to Trump last month.

The Democrats plan to vote on a bipartisan package of six Senate spending bills and a stopgap measure to re-open the Department of Homeland Security at its current funding levels until February 8, the aide said. At the same time, administration officials said Trump was in no rush for a resolution to the impasse, believing he has public opinion and his base on his side.

"It's too important a subject to walk away from", said the president, who was to meet later with Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan (R) and Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt attend a Cabinet meeting on day 12 of the partial US government shutdown at the White House in Washington, US, January 2, 2019.

"Let's make a deal?" he tweeted.

The briefing with congressional leaders is taking place one day before Democrats assume control of the House and end the Republican monopoly on the Government.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham urged the president to try and use this fight to tackle even more than the border issues.

President Trump said Wednesday that the government is partially shut down because Democrats refuse to fund border security. They can not easily claim that their own bill they just voted for in the Senate is soft on border security. That measure would provide money for the remainder of the fiscal year, until September 30.

He said Democrats are playing politics with the wall because some of them have an "eye on 2020".

Republican Representative Steve Scalise called on Democrats on Wednesday to come to an agreement and accused them of "playing games with the safety of our country".

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