President Trump’s White House is working to hold antsy congressional Republicans in check on the 19th day of the partial government shutdown. There is no end in sight to the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
There’s increasing anxiety about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for home buyers who are seeking government-backed mortgage loans. This is “serious stuff,” according to Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Senate Republican.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, urged colleagues to approve spending bills that would reopen various agencies, “so that whether it’s the Department of the Interior or it is the IRS, those folks can get back to work. I’d like to see that.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, called the standoff “completely unnecessary and contrived. People expect their government to work. … This obviously is not working.”
GOP leadership were planning to make sure that the president heard their concerns at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia was one of those leaders who said she wants border security. But she said there was “no way” the shutdown fight would drag on for years as Trump warned last week.
“I think certainly I have expressed more than a few times the frustrations with a government shutdown and how useless it is,” Capito said Tuesday. “That pressure is going to build.”
But Trump is showing no signs that he is willing to back down from his $5.7 billion demand for the border wall in exchange for ending the shutdown.
Democratic and Republican congressional leaders were to return to the White House late on Wednesday to renew negotiations that have shown no apparent progress in the past week.
Trump, speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, argued that the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian “crisis.” He blamed illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asked: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”
Democrats accused Trump appealing to “fear, not facts” and manufacturing a border crisis for political gain, in their response to the president’s address.
The White House had been trying to renew GOP support even before Trump spoke. At a private meeting with House Republicans, Vice President Mike Pence cited a C.S. Lewis quote calling courage a virtue, and he said Trump has no plans to retreat.
“That pickup ain’t got reverse in it,” Pence said, according to people who heard the conversation.
Trump plans a visit to the border Thursday as he continues to argue for the signature promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.
He claimed the standoff about the wall could be resolved in “45 minutes” if Democrats would just negotiate, but previous meetings have led to no agreement.
For now, Trump sees this as winning politics. Trump’s re-election campaign sent out fundraising emails and text messages to supporters trying to raise money off the speech. Their goal: a half-million dollars in a day.
“I just addressed the nation on Border Security. Now need you to stand with me,” read one message sent out after his remarks.
In their own televised remarks, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused Trump of misrepresenting the situation on the border. Schumer said Trump “just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration.”
Credit: Associated Press