WASHINGTON (AP) – With the government mired in shutdown week four, President Donald Trump rejected a short-term legislative fix and dug in for more combat, declaring he would “never ever back down.”
Trump rejected a suggestion to reopen the government for several weeks while negotiations would continue with Democrats over his demands for USD5.7 billion for a long, impregnable wall along the US-Mexico border. The President also edged further away from the idea of trying to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress.
“I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” Trump said on Monday. “This is so simple we shouldn’t have to.”
No cracks were apparent in the President’s deadlock with lawmakers after a weekend with no negotiations at all. His rejection of the short-term option proposed by Republican Sen Lindsay Graham removed one path forward, and little else was in sight. Congressional Republicans were watching Trump for a signal for how to move next, and Democrats have not budged from their refusal to fund the wall and their demand that he reopen government before border talks resume.
The White House has been considering reaching out to rank-and-file Democrats rather than dealing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to try and chip away at Democratic opposition to the wall. A White House official said plans were in the works to call freshman representatives, especially those who initially did not support Pelosi’s bid for the speakership.
It was uncertain whether any Democrats would respond to the invitation.
Separately, around a dozen senators from both parties met on Monday to discuss ways out of the shutdown gridlock. Participants included Graham and Sens Susan Collins, R-Maine, Joe Manchin, D-W Va, and Tim Kaine, D-Va.
Sen John Cornyn, R-Texas, said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, was aware of the group’s effort but added, “I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s blessed it.”
The odds of the group producing an actual solution without Trump’s approval seemed slim. In the past, centrists of both parties banding together have seldom resolved major partisan disputes.
Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill late Monday “discouraged,” according to GOP Sen Mike Rounds of South Dakota, as all signals pointed to a protracted fight.