So much for a Situation Room breakthrough.
Congressional Democratic leaders emerged from a White House meeting with President Trump and their GOP counterparts with not much new to report about ending the government shutdown, making it clear that neither side had budged over Trump’s demand that they give him more than $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Instead, Democratic leaders reiterated their promise to support a bill funding most of the government through September while punting funding for the Department of Homeland Security forward a month — the exact proposal that the Senate unanimously passed in late December, before Trump pulled an about-face and forced a partial shutdown that’s now in its 12th day. The House is expected to pass that plan shortly after Democrats take control of the lower chamber when the new Congress is gaveled in on Thursday.
“We have given the Republicans a chance to take yes for an answer. We have taken their proposals, unamended. Our question to the president and to the Republicans is why don’t you accept what you have already done to open up government?” House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters as she emerged from the meeting. “We’re asking the president to open up government. We’re giving him a Republican path to do that. Why would he not do that?”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) further pressed the point, saying he’d confronted Trump during the meeting about why he wouldn’t accept that offer.
“I asked him directly. I said, ‘Mr. President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown of the eight cabinet departments while we are debating our differences on Homeland Security?’ He could not give a good answer,” Schumer said, accusing Trump and the White House of taking “hostages to have a temper tantrum, pound on the table and say ‘it’s our way or we hurt all these people.'”
The two sides remain as far apart as they were when the government shut down began 12 days ago, with Trump refusing to back off his demand for wall funding and Democrats refusing to cave. Both sides seem to see a government shutdown as more harmful to their opponents.
“They are now feeling the heat. It is not helping the president it’s not helping the Republicans to be the owners of this shutdown,” Schumer said.