Continuing negotiations over the government shutdown and funding for his border wall, President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to withhold funding for multiple government agencies “for a very long period of time — months or even years,” according to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) spoke to reporters following a meeting with Trump at the White House, which they characterized as “contentious,” signaling that negotiations over the shutdown are not likely to end soon.
But during remarks in the White House Rose Garden, Trump boasted that the meeting was “productive.”
“Absolutely, I said that,” Trump told reporters, when asked if he made the threat. But he reiterated that the meeting was “productive,” and said that “I hope [the shutdown] doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days.”
Trump claimed that “we’re all on the same path in terms of wanting to get government open,” before announcing that he has convened a group slated to meet “over the weekend to determine what we’re going to do about the border.”
The president also offered tepid endorsements for a number of potential ideas that could potentially end the shutdown.
For one, Trump toyed with supporting the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals immigration program. He also suggested he could be flexible on what the physical wall structure would be ― allowing for steel slats instead of a concrete barrier. Both ideas are concessions Democrats could potentially get behind, if they trusted Trump.
It’s just that trusting Trump to hold up his end of a bargain is a gigantic leap of faith for Democrats.
In his Rose Garden press conference alone, Trump lied multiple times ― about his past support for a concrete wall, about who is paying for the wall (surprise: it’s U.S. taxpayers!), and about the status of a U.S-Mexico trade deal that hasn’t passed Congress.
If Trump did back DACA, it would still be a sell to Democrats in Congress. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other leaders have said that deal is no longer on the table, after Trump rejected it last year. It would take a substantial amount of trust that Trump wouldn’t just change his mind and somehow find a way out of DACA, perhaps by offering a new executive order to override the legislation.
And even if Trump stood by the immigration program that allows children brought to the United States illegally to stay and obtain work permits, many Republicans inside and outside of Congress would work to undo the legislation in the future.
At the same time, the Democratic position that Trump and Republicans must completely cave and fund the government without any concessions doesn’t seem realistic either.
The partial government shutdown has lasted 14 days as Trump continues to insist on the $5 billion he wants to build his long-promised border wall. Roughly 800,000 federal workers are going without paychecks during the standoff.
When asked Friday why he would not just reopen the government and negotiate over the border wall later, Trump said, “We won’t be opening until it’s solved.”
Trump later suggested he could declare a “national emergency” to circumvent Congress to fund the wall.
Asked if there were plans to help federal workers who have not gotten paid because of the shutdown, Trump claimed without evidence that they “are the biggest fan of what we are doing,” and said that “the safety net is having a strong border.”
This has been updated.
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