Hill leaders to attend White House briefing on border

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic and Republican congressional leaders are expected to attend a briefing on border security at the White House as the government remains partially shut down and President Donald Trump asks in a tweet, “Let’s make a deal?”

The partial government shutdown began December 22, 2018. Funding for Trump’s pet project, a wall along the US-Mexico border, has been the sticking point in passing budgets for several government departments.

The briefing is scheduled for 3pm EST yesterday, the day before Democrats are to assume control of the House and end the Republican monopoly on government.

The exact agenda, however, was not immediately clear, according to a person with knowledge of the briefing who was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the top incoming House Republicans — Kevin McCarthy of California and Steve Scalise of Louisiana — planned to attend, according to aides. The departing House speaker, Paul Ryan, was not expected.

A closed sign is displayed at The National Archives entrance in Washington. – AP

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become speaker today, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer planned to attend.

Pelosi said on Tuesday that Democrats would take action to “end the Trump Shutdown” by passing legislation today to reopen government.

“We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer,” she wrote in a letter to colleagues. “Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the President’s third shutdown of his term.” The White House invitation came on Tuesday after House Democrats released their plan to re-open the government without approving money for a border wall — unveiling two bills to fund shuttered government agencies and put hundreds of thousands of federal workers back on the job.

They planned to pass them as soon as the new Congress convenes today.

Responding to the Democratic plan, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders late Tuesday night called it a “non-starter” and said it won’t re-open the government “because it fails to secure the border and puts the needs of other countries above the needs of our own citizens.”