Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, (D-N.Y) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speak to the press at the White House in Washington, DC, U.S., on Wednesday , January 9, 2019. They had a meeting with President Trump on the government shutdown and the funding for the border wall. Photographer: Tasos Katopodis/Sipa USA.
US President Donald Trump has stormed out of talks with Democratic congressional leaders over funding for a border wall with Mexico and reopening the government, complaining the meeting in the White House was "a total waste of time."
On the 19th day of a partial government shutdown caused by the dispute over the wall, a short meeting that included Trump, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi ended in acrimony with no sign of a resolution.
"Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time," Trump wrote on Twitter. "I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier?" Trump wrote.
"Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!"
Exasperated Democrats called Trump's behaviour a "temper tantrum" and said the meeting broke down when they refused to commit to funding his proposed southern border wall.
Trump's desire for a wall between the United States and Mexico was a central theme of his 2016 presidential campaign.
Schumer told reporters that Trump asked Pelosi if she would fund his wall. "She said no. And he just got up and said: 'Then we have nothing to discuss,' and he just walked out."
"Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn't get his way," Schumer added. "That is sad and unfortunate. We want to come to an agreement. We believe in border security. We have different views."
The breakdown in talks could strengthen the possibility that Trump will declare a national emergency to build a wall on the southern border if no deal with Congress can be reached on his request for funds for the project.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump said he had the authority to declare a national emergency that would let him pay for the wall with military funds. Vice President Mike Pence told reporters that Trump is still considering that option.
Shortly after the White House meeting broke up, the Democratic-majority House of Representatives voted to pass legislation to end a partial shutdown of the Treasury Department and some other agencies that have been closed since December 22, without money for the wall.
But there was no indication that the Senate, controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans, would allow a vote on the bill.
The political manoeuvreing comes amid a rising public backlash over the suspension of government activities that has resulted in the lay-offs of hundreds of thousands of federal workers.
Other "essential" employees are being required to report to work, but without pay for the time being.
The funding fight stems from Congress' inability to complete work by a deadline last September on funding all government agencies. It did, however, appropriate money for about 75 per cent of the government on time - mainly military and health-related programs.
Ratings agency Fitch warned that it could cut the US triple-A sovereign debt credit rating later this year if the shutdown proves prolonged and Congress fails to raise the legal limit on the national debt in a timely manner.
© RAW 2019