Washington failed to find compromise Wednesday to end a 12-day partial government shutdown after a meeting between President Trump and Democratic and Republican leaders at the White House, and a solution could be weeks away.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed one possible bipartisan compromise after the meeting, saying the Senate will not take up House Democrats’ package of spending bills to reopen the government through February 8, 2019 because Trump will not sign it.
The Democratic package to end the shutdown would temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels, with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than Trump has said he wants for a wall on America’s border with Mexico.
“I don’t think any particular progress was made today,” McConnell told reporters, hinting that shutdown could last further into the future.
“It was a civil discussion, and we are hopeful that somehow, in the coming days and weeks, we will be able to reach an agreement,” he said.
Taking place a day before Democrats assume control of the House and end a GOP monopoly on government the meeting included McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Senate GOP Conference Chair John Thune, as well as incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.
Trump himself suggested Wednesday the shutdown will last “as long as it takes” to resolve his demands for billions of dollars from Congress to build a border wall.
“Could be a long time or could be quickly,” Trump said during lengthy comments at a Cabinet meeting at the White House, his first public appearance of the new year.
Trump also rejected his own administration’s offer to accept $2.5 billion for the wall. That offer was made when Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials met with Schumer at the start of the shutdown.
Instead, Trump repeatedly pushed for the $5.6 billion he has demanded.
Ahead of the afternoon session with Democratic and Republican leaders, Trump said the current border is “like a sieve” and noted the tear gas “flying” overnight to deter arrivals. He called the border “very tough” at keeping immigrants out.
The meeting came as the shutdown dragged through its second week, closing some parks and leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.
At the Capitol on Wednesday, Pelosi said she hoped Republicans and the White House “are hearing what we have offered” to end the shutdown.
“We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take ‘yes’ for an answer,” she wrote in a letter to colleagues. “Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the president’s third shutdown of his term.”
Trump contended the Democrats see the shutdown fight as “an election point” as he celebrated his own first two years in office. He promised “six more years of great success.”