WASHINGTON, DC (Gray News/CNN) – President Donald Trump and top Democrats came out of a White House meeting with different takes on the productivity of their discussions Friday.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke outside the White House following the meeting with Trump, saying the president mentioned keeping the government shutdown going for “months or even years.”
Trump, speaking later in the Rose Garden, confirmed he said it could go on that long.
The president nonetheless characterized the meeting positively, saying he and congressional leaders have come a long way in discussions to reopen the government. He said more discussions would be held over the weekend.
“We are all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the sitdown “sometimes contentious,” but tempered her message by indicating marginal progress had been made.
“How do you define ‘progress’ in a meeting?” she said. “When you have a better understanding of each others’ positions, when you eliminate some possibilities, if that’s a judgment then we made some progress.”
Top members of the House GOP Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise appeared alongside Trump during his statement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also took part in the meeting but left immediately after to return to the Capitol.
In his remarks, Trump defended his continued insistence on keeping nine federal agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security, State and Justice, shuttered over his demand for money for a border wall.
“I’m very proud of what I’m doing. I don’t call it a shutdown, I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and for the safety of our country,” the president said.
As morning broke on Day 14 of the government shutdown, the president and his political opponents seemed set in a stalemate over Trump’s plans for a wall. The effects of the shutdown will only grow in coming days, with more closings and people’s tax refunds being held up without a deal.
The Associated Press reported at least two Republican senators facing re-election in 2020, Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado, called for spending bills to be passed separate from border wall funds.
Collins saw “no reason why the bills that are ready to go and on which we’ve achieved an agreement should be held hostage to this debate over border security.”
The newly Democrat-controlled House passed a pair of bills on Thursday night that would separately fund Homeland Security until Feb. 8 while negotiations over border spending continue, and reopen the eight other departments that have been closed since Dec. 22.
Neither of the two measures included any new money for a wall.
Both proposals had some Republican support, but the legislation is not expected to get anywhere in the Senate, where McConnell is deferring to Trump’s promise of a veto.
After passing similar funding measures by voice vote in December, the Senate would not take up any more spending bills without the president’s approval, McConnell has said.
Trump said Friday that “we don’t want to do it in pieces,” referring to the Democratic plan.
A day earlier, he attempted to steal the show from Democrats hours after they officially regained the majority in the House. He held an impromptu White House briefing, taking the podium himself for the first time.
“Without a wall you can’t have border security. It won’t work,” he said.
Trump offered no evidence to support his claim. However, his National Border Patrol Council president, Brandon Judd, added, “I promise you that if you interview border patrol agents, they will tell you that walls work.”
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Article Courtesy of WOIO Cleveland 19 News
First Picture Courtesy of SAUL LOEB and Getty Images
Second Picture Courtesy of ALEX EDELMAN and Getty Images