It's understandable that the president's invitation to congressional leaders to attend a White House "briefing" on border issues from the Department of Homeland Security got a lot of attention, since it ended days of virtual non-communication on the issues underlying the ongoing partial government shutdown (aside from Trump's communications to the whole world via Twitter).
Publicly, Mr. Trump is sticking to his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the southern border.
"It's exactly the kind of proposal you'd expect if the incoming House Democrats are choosing to stage a political side show rather than doing the hard work of helping govern the country". NBC's Savannah Guthrie asked Pelosi in an interview slated to air in full Thursday. But the White House has rejected that package, and Trump said ahead of the session with the congressional leaders that the partial shutdown will last "as long as it takes" to get the funding he wants.
"This is all to tell Chuck and Nancy and some others from ICE and from border patrol, and also from some local law enforcement, how bad it is - how unsafe it is - and why we need a wall", Trump said.
"We can go through this all back and forth - no", Pelosi added. "Nothing for the wall".
The new House Democratic majority will open Congress on Thursday and vote on GOP-drafted bills to end the shutdown, including one that would allow for a month of border security negotiations.
Experience a odd sense of deja vu after witnessing President Donald Trump's strategy to end the partial government shutdown in his first encounter with a divided Congress? But Republican leaders in the House refused to hold a vote on the measure. Outside economists and trade experts, however, said the revisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has rebranded the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, will not bring in to the U.S. Treasury anywhere near what is necessary to pay for a wall.
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Trump complained that he had been "lonely" at the White House during the holiday break, having skipped his getaway to Mar-a-Lago in Florida.
Trump then critiqued the idea that drone surveillance could substitute a wall. More important, what extra money does come in will be from tariffs, which are paid by people in the USA, not Mexico. His demand infuriated many Republicans who had been working to avoid a shutdown, but most have followed his lead and are insisting Democrats broker some sort of compromise.
Schumer said Trump could not provide a "good answer" for opposing the bills.
Democrats have signaled a willingness to approve $1.3 billion in funds for border security in an extension of existing spending levels, a portion of which can be used to replace and fix existing sections of wall and fencing.
"We asked him to give us one good reason - I asked him directly", Schumer said.
House Democrats Thursday plan to pass two bills: one to fund the Homeland Security department at current levels through February 8, which would continue $1.3 billion in border barrier funding; and the other to fund the rest of the government through September 30, at levels negotiated on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.
As of Wednesday, Trump has made it clear he won't accept the Democrats' offer to re-open the government.
The shutdown began December 22. That measure would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to September 30.