President Trump threatened to keep the partial government shutdown going for “months or even years,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said at the White House on Friday — comments Trump himself confirmed shortly afterward.
“We told the president we needed the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time — months or even years,” Schumer said as he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) exited a contentious meeting with the president on the shutdown’s 14th day.
Trump confirmed he’d said that.
“I did. Absolutely I said that,” he said when asked about Schumer’s claim in a Rose Garden press conference shortly afterwards.
Trump has refused to back off his demand for more than $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, forcing a government shutdown over his demands. Democrats continue to say that’s a nonstarter.
On Thursday night, the Democratic-controlled House passed bills funding most of the government through September and funding the Department of Homeland Security for a month so the two sides could continue to negotiate — the same bills the GOP-controlled Senate passed unanimously at the end of December. But Trump has said he won’t accept that deal, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made clear he won’t give the bills another vote in the new Congress.
“We’ll continue discussing, of course, but it’s very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government,” Schumer continued.
Pelosi described the meeting as a “lengthy and sometimes contentious conversation with the president.” She said some progress had been made in the meeting — but only in the sense that the two sides understood each other’s position better and had eliminated options that one side or the other didn’t find acceptable.
This post was updated at 2:25 p.m. to include Trump’s confirmation of his remarks.