President Donald Trump threatened to keep the government shut down for “months or even years” if he doesn’t get money for his border wall, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said after a roughly two-hour White House meeting between the president and congressional leaders Friday.
“He said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time…months or even years,” Schumer told reporters at the White House. “It’s very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government.”
Several federal agencies ran out of funding authority Dec. 21 as Congress and President Trump failed to agree to spending bills to keep them operating. They have remained shuttered since then amid a battle between the president and congressional Democrats over whether to provide money — and how much — for a wall along the nation’s border with Mexico.
The parts of the federal government that are funded are only authorized through the end of September, and it would take new agreements between Congress and the president to keep them operating beyond them.
President Trump has insisted on getting $5 billion or more included in a spending package that would re-open the closed agencies, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said he will get “nothing for the wall.”
In December, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would have spent more than $1 billion on border security, and the House passed a competing measure that would have fulfilled President Trump’s request. The two chambers, then both run by Republicans, deadlocked and the bills died with the end of the last Congress on Thursday.
This week, House Democrats have already passed legislation that would reopen the closed agencies without providing money for the border wall.
Pelosi told reporters that the meeting produced progress in at least one way.
“How do you define progress in a meeting? When you have a better understanding of each other’s position, when you eliminate some possibilities,” she said. “If that’s a judgment, then we made some progress.”
On his return to the Capitol, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said White House and congressional staff would work through the weekend to try to strike a deal to re-open the closed parts of the government.
“The president is going to designate his experts and ask each of us to designate our experts to meet over the weekend to see if they can reach an agreement to then kick up to us for a final decision,” he said.
President Trump was set to make remarks in the White House Rose Garden later Friday afternoon.