Trump stalks out of talks on govt shut­down

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump walked out of his ne­go­ti­at­ing meet­ing with con­gres­sional lead­ers on Wednesday — “I said bye-bye,” he tweeted — as ef­forts to end the 19-day par­tial govern­ment shut­down fell into deeper dis­ar­ray over his de­mand for bil­lions of dol­lars to build a wall on the US-Mex­ico bor­der.

In a ne­go­ti­at­ing ses­sion that was over al­most as soon as it be­gan, Democrats went to the White House ask­ing Trump to re­open the govern­ment. Trump re­newed his call for money for his sig­na­ture cam­paign prom­ise and was re­buffed. Repub­li­cans and Democrats had dif­fer­ing ac­counts of the brief ex­change, but the re­sult was clear: The par­tial shut­down con­tin­ued with no end in sight.

Hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers will miss pay­checks on Fri­day; a lit­tle more than half of them are still work­ing with­out pay. Other key fed­eral ser­vices are sus­pended, in­clud­ing some food in­spec­tions. And as some law­mak­ers ex­pressed dis­com­fort with the grow­ing toll of the stand­off, it was clear Wednesday that the wall was at the cen­ter.

Trump re­vived his threat to at­tempt to over­ride Con­gress by declar­ing a na­tional emergency to un­leash De­fense Depart­ment fund­ing for the wall. He was sched­uled to visit the bor­der on Thursday to high­light what he de­clared in an Oval Of­fice speech Tuesday night as a “cri­sis”. Democrats said Trump is man­u­fac­tur­ing the emergency to jus­tify a po­lit­i­cal ploy.

That de­bate set the tone for Wednesday’s

White House.

Repub­li­cans said Trump posed a di­rect ques­tion to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: If he opened the govern­ment, would she fund the wall? She said no. Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump slammed his hand on the ta­ble, said “then we have noth­ing to dis­cuss” and walked out.

Repub­li­cans said Trump, who passed out candy at the start of the meet­ing, did not raise his voice and there was no ta­ble pound­ing. Pelosi said Trump “stomped” out of the room and was “petu­lant.” Repub­li­cans said he was merely firm.

“The pres­i­dent made clear to­day that he is go­ing to stand firm to achieve his pri­or­i­ties to build a wall — a steel barrier — at the south­ern bor­der,” US Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence told re­porters af­ter­ward.

Trump had just re­turned from Capi­tol Hill, where he urged jit­tery con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans to hold firm with him. He sug­gested a deal for his bor­der wall might be get- sit-down at the ting closer, but he also said the shut­down would last “whatever it takes”.

He dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity of a sweep­ing im­mi­gra­tion com­pro­mise with Democrats to pro­tect some im­mi­grants from de­por­ta­tion but pro­vided no clear strat­egy or time­line for re­solv­ing the stand­off, ac­cord­ing to sen­a­tors in the pri­vate ses­sion. He left the Repub­li­can lunch boast­ing of “a very, very uni­fied party”, but GOP sen­a­tors are pub­licly un­easy as the stand­off rip­ples across the lives of Amer­i­cans and in­ter­rupts the econ­omy.

Trump in­sisted at the White House: “I didn’t want this fight”. But it was his sud­den re­jec­tion of a bi­par­ti­san spend­ing bill late last month that blind­sided lead­ers in Con­gress, in­clud­ing Repub­li­can al­lies, now seek­ing a res­o­lu­tion to the shut­down.

Repub­li­cans are mind­ful of the grow­ing toll on or­di­nary US cit­i­zens, in­clud­ing dis­rup­tions in pay­ments to farm­ers and trou­ble for home­buy­ers who are seek­ing govern­ment-backed mort­gage loans — “se­ri­ous stuff ”, ac­cord­ing to Se­na­tor John Thune, the No 2 Se­nate Repub­li­can.

Democrats said be­fore the White House meet­ing that they would ask Trump to ac­cept an ear­lier bi­par­ti­san bill to re­open the govern­ment with money for bor­der se­cu­rity but not the wall. Pelosi warned that the ef­fects of hun­dreds of thou­sands of lost pay­checks would be­gin to rip­ple across the econ­omy.

“The pres­i­dent could end the Trump shut­down and re­open the govern­ment to­day, and he should,” Pelosi said.

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