With the partial government shutdown stretching into 2019, here’s what you need to know about the effects.
WASHINGTON – As he prepares to meet with lawmakers, President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday he can work with newly empowered Democrats – even as he blamed them for the partial government shutdown that could last a “long time” over the issue of border security and his proposed wall.
“Walls work,” Trump said during a meeting of his Cabinet, later adding that the shutdown will last “as long as it takes” to get sufficient funding for a border barrier.
That meeting came just hours before congressional leaders arrive at the White House, though it’s hard to say how much negotiating will be going on as the shutdown enters its 12th day.
Congressional officials have described the meeting between lawmakers and the president as an informational session on border security, the issue at the heart of the budget impasse that created the shutdown; the White House schedule said only that Trump will participate “in a border security briefing for congressional leadership” to be held in the Situation Room.
While House Democrats have pledged to push their own plan to fund the government and end the shutdown, Trump said he is sticking by his demand for more than $5 billion in wall funding; many Democrats say there should be no wall funding at all, calling the project expensive and ineffective.
Arguing that walls have historically been the best way to prevent illegal border crossings, Trump said: “The wheel, the wall, some things never get old.” He accused Democrats of playing politics with an eye toward the 2020 presidential campaign
Pelosi is expected to attend the White House briefing along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Republican congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are also scheduled to attend.
The last time the Democratic leaders were at the White House, Trump argued with them in a spat on camera about the wall and said he would be willing to shut down the government over the issue.
In a Wednesday tweet, Trump claimed, without evidence, that Mexico “is paying for the Wall” though a new trade deal, though it has yet to be approved by Congress. Citing his budget demand, Trump said that $5.6 billion in wall funding endorsed by the outgoing Republican House “is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!”
The president and the White House have previously made this claim, but have not offered details on how this works.
During his Cabinet meeting, Trump also claimed – again without evidence – that there are 30 to 35 million people in the United States illegally; a recent report from from the Pew Research Center put the number of unauthorized migrants at no more than 10.7 million in 2016.
Some Democrats said the wall sends the wrong message for a country that has thrived on immigration. Trump said that if a wall is immoral, someone should do something about the one that surrounds Vatican.
Trump also discussed – but did not specifically endorse – a proposal in which Democrats would support wall funding in exchange for new legal status for “Dreamers,” the children of undocumented parents whose fate is uncertain after Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
On the table in front of the president was an unusual artifact: a poster of him with the phrase “Sanctions Are Coming,” a play on the tagline of the television program “Game of Thrones.” The poster is a reference to Trump’s decision to end the Iran nuclear agreement.
The partial shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22 when a government funding plan expired. Trump has refused to endorse replacement plans because, in his view, they did not include sufficient funds for the wall and border security. A previous deal from included $1.6 billion for border fencing, less than the $5 billion Trump has demanded.
Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives when Congress convenes this week.
Pelsoi, who is expected to be selected the new Speaker of the House, said the new Democratic House will approve its own plan to end the shutdown, though Trump has already rejected it.
Their proposal includes full-year funding for shuttered departments except for the Department of Homeland Security, which handles immigration and border security. Democrats called for temporary funding of the DHS through Feb. 8 as Trump and Congress negotiate a long-term plan, though many Democrats oppose any federal funding for the wall.
“The President is using the #TrumpShutdown to try to force an expensive & ineffective wall upon the American people, but Democrats have offered two bills which separate the arguments over the wall from the government shutdown,” Pelosi tweeted.
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