WASHINGTON – Congressional leaders plan to be at the White House on Wednesday, but it’s hard to say how much negotiating will be going on as the partial government shutdown enters its 12th day.
Congressional officials have described the meeting as an informational session on border security, the issue at the heart of the budget impasse that created the shutdown; the White House schedule said only that Trump will participate “in a border security briefing for congressional leadership” to be held in the Situation Room.
While House Democrats have pledged to push their own plan to fund the government and end the shutdown, Trump signaled a willingness to negotiate in a Twitter post on Tuesday – though he has insisted that any new plan include full funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
“Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker!” Trump said. “Let’s make a deal?”
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Pelosi is expected to attend the White House briefing along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Republican congressional leaders, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky are also scheduled to attend.
The last time the Democratic leaders were at the White House, Trump argued with them about the wall and said he would be willing to shut down the government over the issue.
In a Wednesday tweet, Trump claimed, without evidence, that Mexico “is paying for the Wall” though a new trade deal. Citing his budget demand, Trump said that $5.6 billion in wall funding endorsed by the outgoing Republican House “is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!”
The president and the White House have previously made this claim, but have not offered details on how this works.
The partial shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22 when a government funding plan expired. Trump has refused to endorse replacement plans because, in his view, they did not include sufficient funds for the wall and border security. A previous deal from included $1.6 billion for border fencing, less than the $5 billion Trump has demanded.
Democrats will take control of the House of Representatives when Congress convenes this week.
Pelsoi, who is expected to be selected the new Speaker of the House, said the new Democratic House will approve its own plan to end the shutdown, though Trump has already rejected it.
Their proposal includes full-year funding for shuttered departments except for the Department of Homeland Security, which handles immigration and border security. Democrats called for temporary funding of the DHS through Feb. 8 as Trump and Congress negotiate a long-term plan, though many Democrats oppose any federal funding for the wall.
“The President is using the #TrumpShutdown to try to force an expensive & ineffective wall upon the American people, but Democrats have offered two bills which separate the arguments over the wall from the government shutdown,” Pelosi tweeted.
In dismissing the Democratic plan, Trump cited the wall.
“The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative!” Trump tweeted. “The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security – and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!”