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Video: Frustrations Run High in Third Week of Shutdown. VOA

The US President and Republican as well as Democratic congressional leaders have failed to make tangible progress on how to end the partial government shutdown due to Donald Trump demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

During the contentious meeting in the Situation Room on Wednesday, the 12 day of the shutdown, Trump made his case for a wall on the southwestern border and rejected Democrats’ proposals for reopening the government while the two sides ironed out their differences, the New York Times reported.

Trump warned before the meeting that he will keep the government partially shut down for as long as necessary, that is, apparently, till Democrats give in to his previous demands for financing his much-touted border wall with Mexico.

At the White House meeting, Democratic leaders asked Trump to immediately reopen the portions of the government that were currently shut down, leaving the discussion about border security — the reason why Trump ostensibly called the meeting in the first place — for later.

“I don’t think any particular progress was made today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after the meeting. “But we talked about all aspects of it and it was a civil discussion and we’re hopeful that somehow in the coming days and weeks we’ll be able to reach an agreement.”

The likely incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said upon leaving the meeting that the Democratic lawmakers’ aim was “to end the partial government shutdown tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation that will open up government. It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate — led by Senator Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, making reference to a Senate bill that passed but did not include wall funding.

Pelosi said that approving the Democrats’ bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 would give lawmakers and Trump 30 additional days to negotiate regarding allocating funds for US border security without the need to keep the government partially shut down and some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers idled.

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“We asked the president to support the bills that we support to open up government,” added Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, noting that he had asked Trump to give “one good reason” for continuing the shutdown if lawmakers were discussing border security with the expectation of finding a mutually agreeable solution.

“He could not give a good answer,” Schumer said.

The government has been partially shut down since December 22 after negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deadlock over the President’s demand that the budget bill include more than $5 billion for construction of the wall. (IANS)



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