President Donald Trump rejected a compromise proposal floated by Vice President Mike Pence to end a partial government shutdown. This rejection, during public comments as part of a Cabinet meeting, came just in advance of Trump meeting in the afternoon with leading Democratic members of Congress in what the White House described as a border-security briefing.
Pence proposed a compromise almost two weeks ago in a closed-door meeting with Democrats just hours before a shutdown of parts of government that lacked appropriations for the current fiscal year. Pence suggested $2.5 billion that would cover general border security and some new fencing, but nothing for Trump’s stated vision of a wall.
Trump said during the cabinet meeting, “No, not $2.5 billion, no—we’re asking for $5.6.” Democrats have offered $1.3 and $1.6 billion at various times for improving border security, but prohibiting any be spent on Trump’s wall.
The partial shutdown is now in its 12th day, with 800,000 federal workers either required to work or on furlough, but none of them receiving paychecks.
Trump has demanded at least $5 billion in funding directed at creating the first stages of a new wall between the U.S. and Mexico that he repeatedly promised to voters during his campaign and over the first two years of his presidency, and which he said before his election that he would force Mexico to pay for.
The president now claims incorrectly that Mexico will pay for the wall in a renegotiated NAFTA trade deal that has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.
The New York Times reported that Pence previously assured both GOP and Democratic senators that Trump would embrace a stopgap budget bill to push back a deadline to February 8. The Senate passed that bill unanimously and then Trump refused to sign it, at which point the House declined to bring it up for a vote.
The House passed a version of an appropriations bill before the partial shutdown with $5.6 billion for wall construction and that included funding for a variety of agencies and departments, including Homeland Security, NASA, and the IRS.
But that bill failed to advance in the Senate, where the president was unable to summon enough GOP senators to achieve a simple majority, much less the 60 votes required under Senate rules to pass most bills.
On Jan. 3, a new set of House members will be sworn in, and the majority swings by dozens of seats from Republicans to Democrats.