The new Democrat-led U.S. House of Representatives is expected to approve bills Thursday to end a partial government shutdown. The Republican leader of the Senate says he will not bring the measures to a vote. President Donald Trump expressed his willingness to keep the shutdown going “as long as it takes” to get border wall financing Democrats do not support.
That is the state of the shutdown after Trump invited congressional leaders to the White House Wednesday and the two sides came no closer to agreeing on a resolution. They plan to try again with another meeting Friday.
The House bills expected to pass Thursday would split the debate over Trump’s desired wall at the U.S.-Mexico border from the issue of having one quarter of the government closed with some 800,000 workers either sitting at home or staying on the job with no paycheck.
One bill would fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8, allowing the opposing sides to figure out how to bridge the gap between Trump’s demand for $5 billion for the wall and Democratic proposals for $1.3 billion in other border security spending.
The second bill would provide funding through the end of September for the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others that are currently closed.
Trump insists on wall
Trump insists the wall is needed to address what he called a sievelike border, while opponents say the wall would be ineffective and expensive.
“We’re talking about national security. This isn’t just a border, this is national security,” Trump said. “This is health and wellness. This is everything.”
The president used Twitter late Wednesday to once again say he is willing to work with Democrats on a bill that would secure U.S. borders. Hours later he followed with another post declaring, “Sadly, there can be no REAL Border Security without the Wall!”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after Wednesday’s meeting that he had asked Trump to provide “one good reason” why the shutdown should continue, and that Trump “could not give a good answer.”
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters he thinks it is possible lawmakers and the president can agree on a resolution “rather quickly.”
“We know we have a challenge along the border. We want to solve that issue,” McCarthy said. “We want to make sure we open this government up. And I think at the end of the day, the president, listening to him, he wants to solve this, as well.”
Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to be elected House speaker, accused Trump of holding the federal government hostage over his campaign promise to build the wall that Mexico would pay for.
“That is so ridiculous. A, Mexico’s not paying for it. And B, we have better use of funds to protect our border. The president knows that,” Pelosi said.