Vancouver Sun



- Damian Paletta and Erica Werner in Washington

President Donald Trump rejected a plan from Democrats on Wednesday to reopen key parts of the federal government, as a meeting of the U.S.’s top political leaders ended with few signs of progress toward ending the partial shutdown.

The president is demanding more than $5 billion to build new walls along the U.S.Mexico border, but Democrats held fast to their opposition Wednesday. House Democrats plan to advance legislatio­n that would reopen key parts of the government but provide Trump no new money for a wall — one of their first acts after taking control of the chamber on Thursday.

However, Trump told Congressio­nal leaders he will not sign the measure, said incoming House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

“The president’s not going to sign it . ... Now’s the time to come together, find common ground and solve this problem,” McCarthy said. “I didn’t find the Democrats were wanting to negotiate today.”

After the White House meeting ended with no resolution, Trump summoned congressio­nal leaders to return on Friday for more discussion­s. But neither side offered any indication a deal was within reach.

“We have given the Republican­s a chance to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said after the meeting in the Situation Room. Earlier, Trump said the 12-day shutdown would go on “as long as it takes.”

The shutdown began Dec. 22, and its impact is spreading, particular­ly in the Washington region. The Smithsonia­n Institutio­n closed its museums and the National Zoo on Wednesday. Trash and human waste are piling up at national parks.

The District of Columbia has stopped issuing marriage licences and the Internal Revenue Service, Securities and Exchange Commission, and a number of other agencies have suspended or scaled back services.

All sides are now locked in a political stalemate, as Republican­s control the Senate and the White House while Democrats have seized the House.

There were no signs that anyone planned to budge on Wednesday.

Trump insisted Congress give him $5.6 billion, money that he wants for the constructi­on of 200 miles of wall along the Mexico border.

He has also rejected the negotiatin­g position of his own top advisers. Vice-President Mike Pence in recent days approached Democrats with a compromise offer of $2.5 billion for border security and wall improvemen­ts. But Trump on Wednesday said he would never accept that deal.

“Somebody said $2.5 (billion),” Trump said to reporters. “No. Look, this is national security we’re talking about.” He described the border as being “like a sieve.”

At a section of the border in Tijuana, Mexico, early on New Year’s Day several migrants tried to climb the metal wall. U.S. Border Patrol agents with night-vision goggles and assault-style rifles yelled, “Get back!” in Spanish, then fired tear gas.

The migrants fled, screaming and coughing. One mother was hysterical after briefly losing her children in the smoke and darkness.

“The children were crying,” said Jose Fajardo Anariba, 16, from Tegucigalp­a, Honduras. “They couldn’t tolerate it.”

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said tear gas, pepper spray and smoke were used to target rock throwers, not the migrants who were trying to cross.

The agency said 25 migrants were detained while others crawled back into Mexico through a hole under the fence.


An Associated Press photograph­er saw rocks thrown only after U.S. agents fired the tear gas. Customs and Border Protection said the incident would be reviewed.

At the cabinet meeting, Trump said the clash showed that “people tried to charge the border and couldn’t.”

The shutdown began after Trump rejected bipartisan congressio­nal efforts to fund many operations through Feb. 8, insisting that any deal must contain money for the constructi­on of a border wall. His demand infuriated many Republican­s who had been working to avoid a shutdown, but most have followed his lead.

Democrats sought to ramp up pressure on Republican­s Wednesday to reopen the government.

“I said ‘Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said after the meeting. “He could not give a good answer.”

House Democrats Thursday plan to pass two bills: one to fund the Homeland Security Department at current levels through Feb. 8, which would continue $1.3 billion in border barrier funding; and the other to fund the rest of the government through Sept. 30, at levels negotiated on a bipartisan basis in the Senate.

That would make it possible for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, RKy., to send Trump a bill to reopen most of the government, while setting aside the fight over the wall.

 ?? DANIEL OCHOA DE OLZA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A migrant jumps the border fence to get onto the U.S. side from Tijuana, Mexico, on Tuesday, as the U.S. government standoff over border wall funding continued.
DANIEL OCHOA DE OLZA / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A migrant jumps the border fence to get onto the U.S. side from Tijuana, Mexico, on Tuesday, as the U.S. government standoff over border wall funding continued.

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