WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s aides and congressional Democrats continued to assail each other on Sunday over the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall that triggered a partial government shutdown – now in its ninth day.
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump is waiting for counter-offers from Democrats about a proposed spending plan that includes money for a wall and other border security measures.
“He has said that he’s ready to receive a counteroffer from the Democrats,” Conway said on Fox News Sunday, declining to provide details on what Trump would or would not accept.
Congressional Democrats said Trump knows they will not support federal money for his proposed wall. They added that the president is the one who refused to endorse a spending plan worked out this month by bipartisan leaders in Congress, and once said he was willing to shut down the government over the wall and his version of border security.
“The president moved the goalposts,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, speaking on CBS’ Face The Nation.
For his part, Trump tweeted out a poll result showing that 62 percent of veterans support his handling of border security.
In another post, Trump praised an administration agreement that would allow Coast Guard members to be paid on Dec. 31, and added: “No thanks to the Democrats who left town and are not concerned about the safety and security of Americans!'”
The president’s tweet referred to the impasse as the “#SchumerShutdown,” named for Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y..
Democrats prefer to call it “the Trump Shutdown.”
“When we passed the bipartisan funding to go to the first of February, a couple weeks ago, the president said he was gonna sign it,” Trump said on CBS. “And then after we passed it he said he wasn’t going to sign it.”
Trump refused to sign any kind of spending bill that does not include more than $5 billion for the wall and border security measures. The last spending bill expired at midnight on Dec. 22, starting the latest shutdown of certain government agencies.
The Republican-run House did pass a bill to Trump’s liking, but Democrats in the Senate blocked its passage. The new Congress convenes on Thursday, with Democrats taking control as the majority.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, told CNN’s State of the Union that Trump “is not going to walk away from this fight without border security funding, money for the wall.”
During days of back-and-forth, Trump and his aides threatened to close down the entire southern border, and suggested that the budget standoff could continue for weeks.
In Sunday show interviews, Conway said there is more to Trump’s border security agenda than a wall.
While “there may be a wall in some places,” Conway told Fox News that “there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements. But always saying ‘wall or no wall’ is being very disingenuous and turning a complete blind eye to what is a crisis at the border.”
Conway also mocked presumed incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for vacationing in Hawaii, saying the California Democrat needs “less hula, more moola” for border funding.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told CBS’ Face The Nation that “our negotiations are at an impasse at the moment,” and both sides are starting to look “silly.”
“We can do better and we’ve got to figure out a way … to get to yes,” Shelby said. “If we blame each other this could last a long, long time.”
Contributing: Will Cummings
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