White House: Trump made 'good faith offer' to Democrats on border wall

Pearl Mccarthy
January 3, 2019

Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other congressional Democrats have rejected President Donald Trump's calls for $5 billion of funding for a wall on the southern border.

As a result of their victory in November's mid-term elections, Democrats will take over leadership of all House committees.

"Our question to the President and to the Republicans is, 'Why don't you accept what you have already done to open up government?' " asked California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the presumed new House speaker, referring to a bipartisan, Senate-passed funding measure, albeit one Trump has never publicly endorsed. The measure sets up the first major battle of the new Congress between House Democrats led by Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said Senate Republicans will not approve a spending measure Trump does not support.

The last real shutdown, which occurred in January of past year, came to a quiet end after only three days, when Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer frittered away what little power he had during the still-unresolved debate over the future of DACA recipients.

All that to say, I don't think Democrats are going to get the clean win they are hoping for out of this shutdown. On Wednesday Trump repeatedly pushed for the $5.6 billion he has demanded.

"We also want to make sure that we can conduct ourselves in a humane fashion on the border".

Trump said the shutdown affecting about a quarter of the federal government and 800,000 federal workers would last for " as long as it takes" as he pushes lawmakers for money for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border as part of any legislation to reopen agencies shuttered when their funding lapsed on December 22.

Mr Trump made the border wall a key part of his presidential campaign and said Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has refused.

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The agencies that are unfunded and in shutdown mode include the Homeland Security Department that pays for the wall, as well as the Agriculture, Justice, Interior, Transportation, State and Housing departments. They 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.

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump told voters that drugs, criminals, and terrorists were flooding into the US across the Mexico border.

"We spend in Afghanistan more in one month than what we're talking about for the wall", Trump added. But when pressed in private by Democrats asking why he wouldn't end the shutdown, he responded at one point, "I would look foolish if I did that". Instead, he began threatening to shut down the government earlier this year unless Congress gave him billions of dollars to build it ― even though the type of structure he wants remains unclear.

Pelosi and other congressional leaders met with Trump Wednesday but failed to secure a deal to end the impasse.

Pelosi was nearly certain to win Thursday's House vote for speaker, a position she held for four years from 2007, when she made history as the first woman ever to rise to that post.

Trump said he's willing to continue the shutdown until the wall money materializes, calling it "too important a subject to walk from".

About a quarter of the federal government ran out of operating money at midnight December 21 after Trump reneged on his commitment to a sign a short-term spending bill that had already passed the Senate on a unanimous vote.

There are parts of the border where walls and fencing need enhacing, said Jeffries, and he agreed that Democrats could consider building some kind of barrier in unsecured areas, depending on the costs. She previously canceled her Christmas plans at Mar-a-Lago to return to the White House, where she and the president made a surprise overnight trip to visit troops in Iraq the day after Christmas. That measure would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to September 30.

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