Trump: ‘Not much head­way’

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Nation/World - Tasos Katopodis / Getty Im­ages

White House of­fi­cials and con­gres­sional aides emerged from talks aimed at end­ing a par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­mands for bor­der wall fund­ing with­out a break­through Satur­day, though they planned to re­turn to the ta­ble the fol­low­ing day.

Trump tweeted: “Not much head­way made to­day.” Democrats agreed there had been lit­tle move­ment, say­ing the White House did not budge on the de­mand for $5.6 bil­lion and would not con­sider re­open­ing the gov­ern­ment.

The White House said fund­ing was not dis­cussed in-depth, but the ad­min­is­tra­tion was clear they needed fund­ing for a wall and that they wanted to re­solve the shut­down all at once.

Ac­cu­sa­tions flew af­ter the more than two-hour ses­sion led by Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence. Act­ing chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, in an in­ter­view with CNN’s “State of the Union,” ac­cused Democrats of be­ing there to “stall.” Democrats fa­mil­iar with the meet­ing said the White House po­si­tion was “un­ten­able.”

A White House of­fi­cial also said the meet­ing in­cluded a brief­ing on bor­der se­cu­rity by Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Kirst­jen Nielsen. Democrats sought writ­ten de­tails from the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity on their bud­get needs, which the White House said it would pro­vide.

The group plans to meet again Sun­day.

With talks stalled, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi an­nounced Satur­day that House Democrats plan to start ap­prov­ing in­di­vid­ual bills to re­open shut­tered de­part­ments start­ing with Trea­sury to en­sure Amer­i­cans re­ceive their tax re­turns.

“While Pres­i­dent Trump threat­ens to keep the gov­ern­ment shut down for ‘years’, Democrats are tak­ing im­me­di­ate fur­ther ac­tion to re­open gov­ern­ment, so that we can meet the needs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple, pro­tect our bor­ders and re­spect our work­ers,” Pelosi said.

Mul­vaney ar­gued the ad­min­is­tra­tion was will­ing to deal in an in­ter­view with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” set to air Sun­day. He said Trump was will­ing to forgo con­crete wall for steel or other ma­te­ri­als.

“If he has to give up a con­crete wall, re­place it with a steel fence in or­der to do that so that Democrats can say, ‘See? He’s not build­ing a wall any­more,’ that should help us move in the right di­rec­tion,” Mul­vaney said.

The pres­i­dent has al­ready suggested his def­i­ni­tion of the wall is flex­i­ble re­fer­ring to slats and other “bor­der things.” But Democrats have made clear they see a wall as im­moral and in­ef­fec­tive and pre­fer other types of bor­der se­cu­rity funded at al­ready agreed upon lev­els.

Trump had cam­paigned on the prom­ise that Mex­ico would pay for the wall. Mex­ico has re­fused. He’s now de­mand­ing the money from Congress.

Trump, who did not at­tend the dis­cus­sions, spent the morn­ing tweet­ing about bor­der se­cu­rity.

Show­ing lit­tle em­pa­thy for the hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers fur­loughed or work­ing with­out pay, Trump de­clared — with­out cit­ing ev­i­dence — that most are Democrats. He also as­serted: “I want to stop the Shut­down as soon as we are in agree­ment on Strong Bor­der Se­cu­rity! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”

One Demo­crat, Mary­land Sen. Chris Van Hollen, said in his party’s weekly ra­dio ad­dress that the shut­down “is part of a larger pat­tern of a pres­i­dent who puts his per­sonal whims and his ef­fort to score po­lit­i­cal points be­fore the needs of the Amer­i­can peo­ple. … He is point­ing fingers at every­one but him­self.”

Trump and Demo­cratic lead­ers met for roughly two hours Fri­day, but gave dif­fer­ing ac­counts of the ses­sion. Democrats re­ported lit­tle progress; Trump framed the week­end talks as a key step for­ward.

As the shut­down drags on, some Repub­li­cans are grow­ing in­creas­ingly ner­vous. Some GOP sen­a­tors up for re-elec­tion in 2020, in­clud­ing Cory Gard­ner of Colorado and Su­san Collins of Maine, have voiced dis­com­fort with the shut­down in re­cent days. Collins has tried to bro­ker deals to end past stale­mates.

Sen. Thom Til­lis of North Carolina penned an op-ed for The Hill, ar­gu­ing that Congress should end the shut­down and make a deal on bor­der se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion re­forms.

In call­ing on Trump to re­open gov­ern­ment while ne­go­ti­a­tions on bor­der se­cu­rity con­tinue, Democrats have em­pha­sized fam­i­lies un­able to pay bills due to ab­sent pay­checks. But Trump has re­peat­edly said he will not budge with­out money for the wall.

Trump as­serted on Fri­day that he could de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to build the wall with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval, but would first try a “ne­go­ti­ated process.” Trump pre­vi­ously de­scribed the sit­u­a­tion at the bor­der as a “na­tional emer­gency” be­fore he sent ac­tive-duty troops. Crit­ics de­scribed that as a pre-elec­tion stunt.

Trump said the fed­eral work­ers who are fur­loughed or work­ing with­out pay would want him to “keep go­ing” and fight for bor­der se­cu­rity. Asked how peo­ple would man­age with­out a fi­nan­cial safety net, he said: “The safety net is go­ing to be hav­ing a strong bor­der be­cause we’re go­ing to be safe.”

Democrats ex­pressed skep­ti­cism Fri­day that there would be a break­through.

“It’s very hard to see how progress will be made un­less they open up the gov­ern­ment,” said Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Trump con­firmed to re­porters that he pri­vately told Democrats, in the Fri­day meet­ing with con­gres­sional lead­ers, that the shut­down could drag on for “months or even years.”

A va­ri­ety of strate­gies are be­ing floated in­side and out­side the White House. Among them is the idea of trad­ing wall money for a deal on im­mi­grants brought to the coun­try as young peo­ple and now here il­le­gally, But Trump made clear dur­ing his news con­fer­ence that talk on DACA, the De­ferred Ac­tion for Child­hood Ar­rivals pro­gram, would have to wait.

Sec­re­tary of Home­land Se­cu­rity Kirst­jen Nielsen, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Ja’Ron Smith spe­cial as­sis­tant to the pres­i­dent of the United States, exit the Eisen­hower Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fice Build­ing on Satur­day. The U.S gov­ern­ment is go­ing into the third week of a par­tial shut­down with Repub­li­cans and Democrats at odds on agree­ing with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s de­mands for more money to build a wall along the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der.

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