Trump refuses to budge on border wall demand
03 January 2019
US President Donald Trump has refused to back out of his demand for $5.6 billon funding for what he calls the “beautiful” southern wall that would effectively keep illegal Mexican immigrants out of the country.
Trump, who on Wednesday met top Democratic lawmakers like Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat who is to take over as speaker of the House today, and the Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, also warned that the US government shutdown could last a 'long time' if the two sides failed to reach an agreement over border wall with Mexico.
But a meeting which took place one day ahead of a Democrat takeover of the House of Representatives, failed to hammer out an agreement that would end a partial government shutdown as Trump showed no signs of backing away from his insistence on the wall funding.
While Democrats said they would support the bills that will open up government, the President refused to give a good reason to continue his shutdown. “There were no indications of any progress had been made in resolving the impasse, said Schumer.
Republican Kevin McCarthy, who will be minority leader in the next House, said Democratic and Republican leaders of Congress would return to the White House on Friday for more talks.
"This doesn't need to go on very much longer," McCarthy said.
But Trump said he was prepared to hold out "as long as it takes" to secure the money he is seeking for the border wall.
"This is national security we're talking about," he said at a cabinet meeting ahead of the meeting with Pelosi, Schumer and top Republicans. "It's too important a subject to walk away from.
"I think the people of this country think I am right," Trump said, adding that it "could be a long time" before the government reopens.
The standoff has left hundreds of thousands of federal employees out of job during the Christmas and New Year days and they are unlikely to be back on job until a deal is reached.
Trump claims that much of the Wall has already been renovated or built and that Mexico would pay for the wall through the new trade deal between the two countries.
Republicans lost 40 seats and their majority in the House in the November midterm elections but they retained control of the Senate by a slim margin.