The day after his nationally televised address on the need for a border wall, President Donald Trump on Wednesday brought candy to a meeting at the White House with Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress to hash out a solution to the partial government shutdown.
But the meeting, held in the Situation Room, ended with Trump leaving the room, tweeting that it was “a total waste of time,” and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., accusing him of having a “temper tantrum.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Trump of being a “petulant president.”
Vice President Mike Pence and congressional Republicans offered a different perspective to reporters outside the White House.
“He left the room today because Speaker Pelosi said that even if he gave her what she wanted, she would never agree to the border security priorities that we have on the table,” said Pence, who has been leading the negotiations to end the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22.
Trump is asking for $5.7 billion for a border wall and other border security measures, such as additional Customs and Border Protection agents and more immigration judges. Democrats have called for funding the rest of government while negotiations continue over border security funding—which Trump proposed to do for 30 days.
“The president literally called the question: ‘If I opened up the government quickly, would you agree to border security and a wall?’” Pence said. “The speaker of the House said ‘no.’ At that point, the president thought there was no reason to keep talking at this meeting.”
However, Pence noted that in previous negotiations, the administration was willing to make trades.
“There will be no deal without the priorities the president has put on the table,” the vice president said. “But if you look at the proposal the president directed us to make this weekend after spending two days with senior staff, two meetings with leadership, it reflects Democratic priorities as well.”
The meeting with Pelosi; Schumer; House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; and Senate Minority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., marked the first time since Friday that Democratic leaders had gone to the White House. Over the weekend, senior Democratic congressional staffers met with Pence and Republicans.
Still, the sides seem further apart.
“It’s cold out here, and the temperature wasn’t much warmer inside the Situation Room,” Pelosi told reporters after the meeting.
Pelosi began talking about the 800,000 federal employees across 25 percent of the federal government that would not be paid.
“It’s so sad that, in a matter of hours or just a few days, many federal workers will not be receiving their paychecks and what that means in their lives is tragic,” the House speaker said. However, all federal employees will get back pay after the shutdown ends.
Schumer criticized Trump for leaving the room after Pelosi rejected his plea for funding for a border wall.
“We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way, and he just walked out of the meeting,” the Senate minority leader said.
Other Republican lawmakers attended, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; Senate Majority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.; and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.
Scalise said Trump has been willing to compromise and settle for less than his requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier, but Democrats have made no counteroffer.
“Nancy Pelosi, last week, she said her only solution was to support a dollar,” the Louisiana lawmaker said of the speaker’s joking $1 offer for the wall on Jan. 3. “Now the American people who are watching this shutdown, the families that are going to be missing paychecks this week, it’s not fair to them to say you’re only willing to offer a dollar to solve this problem when you haven’t given any serious counteroffer.”
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