Trump ‘isn’t going to back down’ on shutdown

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9896574k) President Donald Trump listens as he meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York Trump, New York, USA - 26 Sep 2018

The White House said the president “isn’t going to back off” as he met congressional leaders for negotiations on the partial government shutdown.

President Donald Trump is refusing to sign any budget without funding for a US-Mexico border wall, which Democrats are adamantly against.

After talks, Democrat Chuck Schumer said Mr Trump vowed to keep government shut for “months or even years”.

Around 800,000 federal workers have been without pay since 22 December.

Republicans and Democrats have been stuck in a stalemate whose result is the shutdown.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle met Mr Trump at the White House on Friday.

After the meeting ended, New York Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters: “We told the president we needed the government open. He resisted.

“In fact he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time. Months or even years.”

The White House and top Democrats have shown little sign of backing down since holding their first meeting earlier this week over the partial government shutdown.

Democrats, who now hold the majority in the House, passed spending bills on Thursday to reopen the government, including $1.3bn (£1bn) of border security funds until 8 February.

But the legislation cannot take effect unless it passes the Republican-controlled Senate, where leader Mitch McConnell said his party would not back any measures without the president’s support.

The Kentucky senator called the Democratic budget “a time-wasting act of political posturing”.

The Washington Post reported on Friday that while hundreds of federal workers go without pay, the president’s cabinet secretaries, top administrators as well as Vice-President Mike Pence are expected to receive annual raises of about $10,000.

The pay hikes will take effect on 5 January partly because of the shutdown. An existing federal pay freeze expired last month when Congress failed to reach a deal to fund federal agencies.

The partial US government shutdown began when Congress and Mr Trump failed to reach an agreement over a budget bill in December.

The Republicans had passed an initial funding bill including $5bn (£4bn) for the wall, when they still had a majority in the House, but they could not get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate.

Which side will blink first?

Some vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 have spoken out in favour of approving the budget bills to end the government shutdown.

Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado was the first to do so, saying on Thursday that Congress should reopen the government and let wall negotiations continue afterwards.

Maine Senator Susan Collins echoed this view, suggesting the president should sign the agreed upon spending bills first so federal employees could get back to work.

The White House is again floating the idea of a deal for ‘Dreamers’ – immigrants who illegally entered the US as children.

Democrats want to ensure that these individuals are shielded from deportation, but have insisted that they will not support a deal over wall funding.

Vice-President Mike Pence told Fox News the deal was being “talked about”, but that Mr Trump said no deal was possible “without a wall”

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