Negotiations continue as government shutdown enters 3rd week

Posted on: January 5th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — With the government shutdown approaching its third week, negotiations between Republicans and Democrats are continuing in an effort to get federal workers back to work and paid.

Congressional leadership staff, Vice President Mike Pence, senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and aides are all meeting today to work towards an agreement at the behest of the president.

On Saturday morning, acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Kushner, Pence, and Nielsen walked over to the vice president’s ceremonial office together, which is located across the street from the White House. Currently, negotiations remain at an impasse as the president said he will not budge on his request for $5 billion in funding for a border wall.

During an unplanned press conference in the Rose Garden of the White House after a closed-door meeting with Democratic and Republican leadership Friday, President Trump said he is prepared to keep the government shut down for “a very long period of time, months or even years” in order to get border wall funding.
Following the meeting, Democrats said the president ignored their pleas to reopen the government as negotiations continue.

The stalemate has frustrated lawmakers and federal workers. Currently, over 800,000 federal workers are working without pay or have been sent home to wait for possible back pay. The consequences are being felt by civilians, too — museums are closed, trash is piling up in parks, and vital, government-backed resources for farmers or housing, for example, are frozen.

Trump dismissed furloughed federal workers in a tweet on Saturday, writing: “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats, I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”

I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats, I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2019

During his Rose Garden press conference Friday, the president was asked about his message for furloughed federal workers. He said that negotiations for a border wall take priority, adding that he believes that federal works “agree with what we’re doing.”

The president has made the claim that federal workers are Democrats before. Mulvaney told reporters last Friday the president meant that most federal workers live in districts around the D.C. area that are represented by Democrats.

President Trump also tweeted that ending the shutdown “would be so easy to do” if Democrats would approve “REAL Border Security” that includes the wall and claims there is support from both sides.

Great support coming from all sides for Border Security (including Wall) on our very dangerous Southern Border. Teams negotiating this weekend! Washington Post and NBC reporting of events, including Fake sources, has been very inaccurate (to put it mildly)!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2019

Coming out of the second meeting in the White House Situation Room with the president on Friday, Democrats said the discussions were “contentious.” While Trump has continued to demand $5.6 billion for the border wall, Democrats say they are not willing to allocate any additional funding for the wall. Instead, Democrats have asked the president to reopen the government while the talks continue.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who recaptured the speaker’s gavel on Thursday, did not sound optimistic when she was asked how she would define the progress from the meetings.

“How do you define progress when you have a better understanding of each other’s position? When you eliminate some possibilities? If that’s a judgment, then yes, we made progress,” she said before turning on her heels to leave the White House with her fellow Democrats.

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