Trump threat­ens shut­down dur­ing tele­vised spat

China Daily (Canada) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — In a wild Oval Of­fice con­fronta­tion, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump heat­edly threat­ened to shut down the govern­ment on Tues­day as he and Demo­cratic lead­ers bick­ered over fund­ing for his promised bor­der wall and of­fered a grim pre­view of life in Wash­ing­ton the next two years un­der di­vided govern­ment.

Trump and House and Se­nate Demo­cratic lead­ers Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer squab­bled for more than 15 min­utes in the stun­ning, tele­vised en­counter. Each of them, es­pe­cially Trump, in­ter­rupted the others to ques­tion facts, quib­ble over elec­tion re­sults and lob in­sults.

Trump ques­tioned Pelosi’s abil­ity to count votes in her own House. She ques­tioned his man­hood af­ter she left the build­ing.

The pub­lic clash marked Trump’s first meet­ing with the newly em­pow­ered Democrats since their midterm vic­to­ries that put them in con­trol of the House, lay­ing bare the ten­sions on both sides and sug­gest­ing how di­vided govern­ment might work or not as the 2020 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion nears.

In the pub­lic de­bate, Trump sounded more de­ter­mined than ever to al­low a par­tial govern­ment shut­down un­less he gets the bil­lions he wants for his long-promised wall along the US-Mex­ico bor­der.

“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other — whether it’s through you, through a mil­i­tary, through any­thing you want to call — I will shut down the govern­ment,” Trump said as the heated ar­gu­ment drew to a crescendo.

“I am proud to shut down the govern­ment for bor­der se­cu­rity, Chuck, be­cause the peo­ple of this coun­try don’t want crim­i­nals and peo­ple that have lots of prob­lems and drugs pour­ing into our coun­try,” he said be­fore re­porters left their ring­side seats.

Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike be­side Trump, silent faced.

Con­gress wants to fi­nal­ize spend­ing be­fore a Dec 21 dead­line. While Trump’s fel­low Repub­li­cans con­trol the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Se­nate un­til next month, Demo­cratic sup­port is needed to pass spend­ing leg­is­la­tion.

If the im­passe can­not be re­solved by Dec 21, about one-quar­ter of the fed­eral govern­ment im­me­di­ately would be left with­out fund­ing. Money for the rest of the govern­ment al­ready has been ap­pro­pri­ated.

Trump has asked Con­gress for $5 bil­lion for bor­der se­cu­rity, while Schumer and Pelosi said they Pence sat and stone of­fered to ex­tend fund­ing at cur­rent lev­els, around $1.3 bil­lion. That is less than the $1.6 bil­lion a bi­par­ti­san Se­nate com­mit­tee ap­proved.

Schumer ac­cused Trump of throw­ing a tantrum but said Trump told the Democrats he would con­sider their bud­get pro­pos­als, Schumer told re­porters.

Pelosi, who told re­porters she thought the Democrats had left things “in a pretty good place”, said she had asked Trump to pray about re­solv­ing the dis­pute, re­count­ing the bib­li­cal story of King Solomon ask­ing God for wis­dom.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, a Re­pub­li­can, told re­porters, “I’d still like to see a smooth end­ing here and I haven’t given up hope that’s what we’ll have.”

EVAN VUCCI / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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