United States President Donald Trump on Friday “threatened” to continue with the ongoing, two-week-old partial government shutdown for years if the Congress refused to support funding for a wall along the Mexico border.
Following a meeting with the Congressional leaders at the White House, ending in a stalemate, Trump said he may call a national emergency to build a border wall which, he argues, is essential to stop the illegal immigrants from entering the United States.
“I did say that. Absolutely, I said that,” Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House after Democratic leaders told media about the president’s “threat”, during their meeting with him, to continue with the partial government shutdown for years.
“We told the president we need the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period, months or even years,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after his meeting with Trump at the White House on ending the partial government shutdown.
A spokesman for Ms. Pelosi, Drew Hammill, noted that the White House had made no formal outreach to Ms. Pelosi since Dec. 11, when she and Mr. Schumer met with the president.
Mr. Trump and Mr. Mulvaney have both claimed that Ms. Pelosi was holding up a deal as leverage to secure votes to be elected speaker next week. But Ms. Pelosi has already clinched the speakership through a weekslong campaign of deal making, arm-twisting and outright auditioning for the job. Such little doubt lingers about her ascendance that her aides began moving into the speaker’s office suite in the heart of the Capitol on Friday after Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin vacated it.
The president’s attempts to blame Democrats for the shutdown has gained little traction with the public. About 47 percent of adults hold Mr. Trump responsible for the shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday. In contrast, about 33 percent blame the Democrats in Congress. The poll was conducted Dec. 21 through 25, mostly after the shutdown went into effect.
Despite Mr. Trump’s assertions to the contrary, most Democrats support increased funding for border security. Many Senate Democrats, for instance, voted to allocate tens of billions of dollars for security enhancements in 2013, including roughly doubling the size of the border patrol, creating new electronic monitoring systems and even some additional physical barriers at certain points along the border.
But that money was in the context of a comprehensive immigration overhaul that would have tried to address systemic problems. By contrast, they view Mr. Trump’s border wall as a costly and ineffective proposal. What is more, they have pointed to government accounting documents that show the Trump administration has spent only a fraction of the money allocated by Congress last year for a physical barrier along the border.
With no endgame in mind, Mr. Trump appears to be boxed in between Democrats who will control the House and have key votes in the Senate and his supporters on the hard right, who have grown more vocal in criticizing him. After administration officials signaled this month that the president was willing to back off his demands for wall funding, the conservative personalities Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh accused the president of being “gutless” and surrendering to Democrats.
To avoid an immediate hit from his base, Mr. Trump appeared to embrace a short-term strategy, celebrating a premature victory when the House passed a short-term funding bill last week that included the money he wanted for more border security.
Typically in spending negotiations, lawmakers join the president in hammering the opposition party over their position. But other than Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina, who is a close ally of the president, and a handful of arch-conservative House members, most Republican lawmakers have stayed out of the fray. Even Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, has held off, saying last week that it was up to Democrats and Mr. Trump to reach a deal and only when they did would he hold a vote.
“It’s clear that we on the Republican side do not want to vote for a bill that the president won’t sign,” Senator Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, told reporters on Thursday after presiding over a minutes-long Senate session.
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Mr. Trump appeared committed to delivering on his signature campaign promise of building a border wall after the urging from some of his most ardent supporters.
“I don’t know why he wouldn’t make this a fight,” said Tom Davis, a former Republican congressman from Virginia. “I don’t think you pay any price at this point. The election is in two years, and nobody is going to remember this. But his base will remember that he fought for a wall. I don’t see any political consequence.”
…..Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money. Word is that a new Caravan is forming in Honduras and they are doing nothing about it. We will be cutting off all aid to these 3 countries – taking advantage of U.S. for years!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 28, 2018
On Friday, Mr. Trump was working in the Oval Office, meeting with staff. His son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, had returned to the White House from a family vacation in Florida on Wednesday. Mr. Mulvaney was also at the White House, having assumed all official duties from the departing chief of staff, John F. Kelly, who does not officially leave his post until the new year, a White House official said. Mr. Kelly was not in the building.
Mr. Trump also reiterated his threat to cut off aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as punishment to countries he claimed on Twitter “are doing nothing for the United States but taking our money.” Migrants have been fleeing those countries, choosing to confront Mr. Trump’s threats to prevent them from crossing the border over the dangers of life at home.