WASHINGTON — Democrats left a White House meeting with President Trump today determined to forge ahead with their plans to introduce legislation to end the government shutdown Thursday on the first day of the 116th Congress.
That consists of two bills: one that would reopen all agencies except the Department of Homeland Security, and another that would extend DHS funding at current levels through Feb. 8 to allow more time for negotiations.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who faces the speaker of the House election Thursday, told reporters after the Trump meeting that the bills “will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate, bills that have passed on the floor of the Senate by over 90 votes and/or in committee unanimously, led by Senator Mitch McConnell” using the date previously used by McConnell for the homeland security continuing resolution.
“We have given the Republicans a chance to take yes for an answer. We have taken their proposals unamended by any House bipartisan amendments, but just staying true to what the Senate has already done,” she said. “Our question to the president and to the Republicans is why don’t you accept what you have already done to open up government and that enables us to have 30 days to negotiate for border security? Democrats have been committed to protecting our borders. It’s the oath of office we take to protect and defend. It has been very important to us, and we have committed resources to it when we were in the majority, and will continue to do so.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he asked Trump to give him “one good reason” to continue the shutdown of all departments over the Homeland Security impasse and “he could not give a good answer.”
Trump tweeted this evening, “Important meeting today on Border Security with Republican and Democrat Leaders in Congress. Both parties must work together to pass a Funding Bill that protects this Nation and its people – this is the first and most important duty of government.”
“I remain ready and willing to work with Democrats to pass a bill that secures our borders, supports the agents and officers on the ground, and keeps America Safe. Let’s get it done!” the president added.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who will be introducing the bills to reopen the government, said that “almost everybody in the room — I don’t want to say everybody — believes that shutting down government is a stupid public policy.”
The White House says the bills are a nonstarter, but Hoyer said they’re moving forward anyway “because that is our responsibility as a coequal branch of government, to do that which we think is right.”
“We’re asking the president to open up government. We are giving him a Republican path to do that. Why would he not do it, accept?” Pelosi said.
Trump asked congressional leaders to return for more talks on Friday. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told reporters that “at the end of the day the president — listening to him, he wants to solve this as well.”
The White House said Tuesday evening that today’s meeting would include a briefing from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen on current border security issues. McCarthy said Pelosi and Schumer “really didn’t want to hear it and they challenged some of the points the secretary made.”
“I think they wanted to go on without going through the briefing. They wanted to go on with their bill that they were bringing up tomorrow. The president’s been very clear that it’s not the bill he would support. And Leader McConnell had said he’s not bringing anything up that’s not going to become law, so he wants to make sure he solves this problem,” McCarthy said.
“Everybody in the room said they want to have a secure border, so maybe we work to a combination to make it solved,” he later added. “…And that is why we will be back on Friday. We want to make sure this border — we want to make sure the border is secure. But more importantly, we want to make sure this government is open.”