‘Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!’
(Jennifer Haberkorn, Los Angeles Times) A day after leaving the door open for a bipartisan compromise on government funding, President Donald Trump reportedly staged a walkout on obstructionist Democratic leaders when they refused to agree to his demand for $5.7 billion to build a southern border barrier.
Trump said he asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York if they would agree to end the shutdown, now in its 19th day, in return for funds for a wall or steel barrier, one of his major campaign promises.
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. 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? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Trump last night, during his first televised public address from the Oval Office, called on voters to put the political pressure on their representatives.
Echoing a talking point from his previous night’s rebuttal address, Schumer accused the president of throwing a “temper tantrum.”
“The president slammed the table, asked Speaker Pelosi if she would support his wall and when she said no, he walked out and said, ‘We have nothing to talk about,'” Schumer said. “He didn’t get his way and he just walked out of the meeting.”
Trump’s move largely parallels President Barack Obama’s 2013 shutdown, when the president and House Democrats insisted on appropriations for the Affordable Care Act, which the Senate initially refused to grant but lacked the resolve to follow through on.
More than 800,000 workers have been furloughed, with many being forced to work without pay. Paychecks due to arrive Friday are not expected to arrive, forcing many families to miss mortgage payments, put off medical procedures or juggle bills.
Trump, who said previously that the shutdown would disproportionately impact left-leaning government bureaucrats and also threatened to cut Democrat-friendly entitlements such as housing subsidies on Wednesday dangled the possibility of cutting off FEMA funds disbursed to wildfire victims in heavily liberal California.
So far, whether due to Botox or sheer temerity, Pelosi hasn’t flinched.
The longtime San Francisco congresswoman said—without evidence or further clarification—that a wall will not resolve the problems currently experienced at the border.
“What Trump is claiming to be the situation at the border is not solved by a wall,” she said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of the few Republicans representing California, said talks have been complicated because of Democrats’ hard-line stance, refusing to budge on the wall or even enter serious negotiations.
“It is a real challenge when the Democrats won’t even give an offer back, won’t even do anything,” he said.
The hostile encounter marked a shift for Trump, who previously has spoken about the progress being made during talks. In recent days he has floated the idea of bypassing Congress entirely and declaring a national emergency at the border, which the administration believes will enable it to use other military funds to build the wall.
It also suggested that the shutdown is likely to become the longest on record, a threshold it will pass on Saturday.
Trump remained on the offensive this week—including a trip to Capitol Hill on Wednesday and a visit to the southern border Thursday.
A handful of battleground Republicans facing tough re-election battles (and having little love for the president) had earlier signaled a possibly weakened front in his Senate firewall.
Trump tried to assuage GOP concerns by meeting Senate Republicans on Thursday and urging them to stay united.
However, many appeared to leave the meeting seeing no resolution in sight. Asked if he had the impression the shutdown would end soon, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott said: “I did not.”
After the meeting, Trump—who prides himself on his deal-brokering—stressed solidarity with GOP party leaders, perhaps signaling a master strategy yet to be revealed. “Republicans are totally unified,” he said.
But the White House PR blitz this week hasn’t gone as smoothly as hoped, partly because Trump has at times seemed to undercut the unity message and distanced himself from the shutdown. He reportedly complained to broadcasters Tuesday that didn’t think the Oval Office address or border trip were smart ideas, and his aides were making him do it.
In December, Trump said he’d gladly “own” the shutdown, but on Wednesday he told reporters: “This is not a fight I wanted. I didn’t want this fight.”
Liberty Headlines’ Ben Sellers contributed to this report.
(c)2019 Los Angeles Times. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.