U.S. Politics

New Congress, same old impasse over Trump’s wall

The new Congress convenes Thursday with Democrats and leader Nancy Pelosi taking majority control of the House

The partial government shutdown entered a 13th day Thursday with House Democrats prepared to pass their plan to reopen government and President Donald Trump accusing them of playing politics with an eye on the 2020 election.

Both sides appeared at an impasse over Trump’s demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. Congressional leaders will meet with Trump on Friday to try for a resolution.

The new Congress convenes Thursday with Democrats taking majority control of the House, and Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, expected to be elected speaker, said they’d quickly pass legislation to re-open the government — without funds for Trump’s border wall.

“There is no amount of persuasion he can use” to get her to fund his wall, Pelosi said in an interview airing Thursday on NBC’s “Today” show. She added: “We can go through the back and forth. No. How many more times can we say no?”

Trump shot back Thursday, accusing the Democrats of playing politics.

“The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election,” he said on Twitter. “The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!”

The Democratic package to end the shutdown would include one bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels — with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than Trump has said he wants for the wall — through Feb. 8 as talks would continue.

It would also include a separate measure to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown. That measure would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to Sept. 30.

The White House has rejected the Democratic package, and Republicans who control the Senate are hesitant to take it up without Trump on board. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it a “total nonstarter.” Trump said ahead of his White House session with the congressional leaders that the partial shutdown will last “as long as it takes” to get the funding he wants.

In public, Trump renewed his dire warnings of rapists and others at the border. But when pressed in private Wednesday by Democrats asking why he wouldn’t end the shutdown, he responded at one point, “I would look foolish if I did that.” A White House official, one of two people who described that exchange only on condition of anonymity, said the president had been trying to explain that it would be foolish not to pay for border security.

“Could be a long time or could be quickly,” Trump said during lengthy public comments at a Cabinet meeting, his first public appearance of the new year. Meanwhile, the shutdown has closed some parks and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.

Democrats said they asked Trump directly during Wednesday’s private meeting held in the Situation Room why he wouldn’t consider their package of bills. One measure would open most of the shuttered government departments at funding levels already agreed to by all sides. The other would provide temporary funding for Homeland Security, through Feb. 8, allowing talks to continue over border security.

“I said, Mr. President, Give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said afterward. “He could not give a good answer.”

At another point Wednesday, Trump told Pelosi that, as a “good Catholic,” she should support the wall because Vatican City has a wall, according to a congressional aide. Trump has mentioned the Vatican’s centuries-old fortifications before, including at the earlier Cabinet meeting. But Democrats have said they don’t want medieval barriers, and Pelosi has called Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border immoral.

“I remain ready and willing to work with Democrats,” Trump tweeted after the meeting. “Let’s get it done!”

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said that there’s no need to prolong the shutdown and that he was disappointed the talks did not produce a resolution. He complained that Democrats interrupted Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen as she was trying to describe a dreadful situation at the border.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said on Fox that Pelosi will be “more able to negotiate” once she is elected speaker, as expected Thursday.

The two sides have traded offers, but their talks broke down ahead of the holidays. On Wednesday, Trump also rejected his own administration’s offer to accept $2.5 billion for the wall. That proposal was made when Vice-President Mike Pence and other top officials met at the start of the shutdown with Schumer, who left saying they remained far apart. On Wednesday Trump repeatedly pushed for the $5.6 billion he has demanded.

Making his case ahead of the private afternoon session, Trump said the current border is “like a sieve” and noted the tear gas “flying” overnight to deter arrivals.

“If they knew they couldn’t come through, they wouldn’t even start,” he said at the meeting, joined by Cabinet secretaries and top advisers, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

With no negotiations over the holidays, Trump complained he had been “lonely ” at the White House, having skipped his getaway to Mar-a-Lago in Florida. He claimed his only companions were the “machine-gunners,” referring to security personnel, and “they don’t wave, they don’t smile.” He also criticized Pelosi for visiting Hawaii.

She responded Thursday, saying, “The president may not know this, but Hawaii is part of the United States of America.” She says she was available on 24 hours’ notice.

The partial government shutdown began on Dec. 22.

Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Kevin Freking and Jill Colvin contributed to this report.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Chemainus Thrift Shop undergoing renovations to improve efficiency

Customers won’t see more room for goods, but office space and storage an important focus

Volunteers at the ready for a Crofton clean-up

Crofton Community in Bloom spearheading the project Saturday

North Cowichan looks to keep tax increase below 3%

Finance team asked to find ways to drop increase to 2.95%

Ladysmith mayor considered running federally, decided against it

Aaron Stone filed papers with Nanaimo-Ladysmith NDP to be vetted as a candidate

Roundabout plans at River Road in Chemainus moving forward

Land issues still being resolved before details revealed to the public

VIDEO: 13-year-old killed in B.C. crash that involved five kids

The children range in age from six to 17.

UPDATE: Nanaimo ferry sailing cancelled due to docking mishap in Gibsons

Tuesday’s 8:45 p.m. sailing from Departure Bay cancelled as vessel re-deployed

MPs denounce leaked reports of Trudeau-JWR clash over Supreme Court pick

Opposition MPs called the leaks an act of desperation meant to smear Wilson-Raybould

Study says B.C.’s housing policies mean drug users can be targeted for eviction

The study involves 50 people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

VIDEO: Homicide team called in after three killed in Surrey car crash

Investigators ask public to come forward with information, dashcam video

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

UPDATED: Sailings resume after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Most Read