Donald Trump Suggests Government Shutdown Could Last “Months Or Even Years”
Trump, Schumer and other congressional leaders from both parties convened to discuss a solution to the shutdown, which entered its 14th day on Friday. The standoff that caused the government to close was over the issue of border security, as Trump has insisted Congress provide $5 billion in funding for the wall. Around 800,000 federal workers have been affected by the shutdown, and have lost pay for the two weeks it has lasted.
On Thursday evening, the new House Democratic majority passed a legislative package to reopen the government without funding the wall. However, the Senate — which remains under Republican control — still has to vote on the issue.
“We told the president we needed the government open,” Schumer told reporters outside the White House on Friday. “He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”
Other top Democrats like California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the newly elected House Speaker, have also insisted that no additional funds will be given for the border wall.
Despite reports of the most recent meeting between Trump and lawmakers being “contentious,” the president called the encounter “productive” in remarks in the Rose Garden.
“This is national security we’re talking about,” Trump said as he was joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and congressional GOP leaders. “We’re not talking about games. We’re talking about national security. This should have been done by all the presidents who preceded me and they know it.”
Some conservative pundits have offered one suggestion for ending the stalemate: devise legislation that assures both wall funding and protection from deportation for Dreamers, immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and who were previously covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, neither Trump nor any Democrats brought up this potential solution on Friday.
California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, seemed willing to consider this option.
“We can find common ground,” McCarthy told reporters. “DACA is a problem, border security is a problem and anything that can make sure that we can get everything together and move forward, I’m willing to discuss.”
The DACA program expired in March and Trump has vowed to rescind it.
A persistent government shutdown would undoubtedly hurt the U.S. economy, which has been significantly strong in recent months. Friday’s employment report stated that 312,000 jobs were added in December 2018. The Labor Department also said wages — which had stagnated up until recently — saw substantial gains last month.