Trump invites congressional leaders for talks as shutdown continues03 January 2019 AFP, Washington
President Trump invited top lawmakers to the White House for talks as the partial government shutdown continued. Trump last met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (at right) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday invited Republican and Democratic leaders from Congress for a meeting to seek an end to the federal government shutdown now in its second week.
The two sides have appeared at an impasse, with Trump's Democratic foes seeking a vote on spending bills to keep the government open - without addressing the hot-button issue of border wall funding - as soon as they take control of the House of Representatives, on Thursday.
But the legislation's future appears uncertain, as it does not contain funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border, as demanded by Trump.
But Trump appeared to strike a more conciliatory tone seeking to bring Democrats to the table after acerbic remarks over the weekend.
"Border Security and the Wall 'thing' and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?" he tweeted.
Pelosi is set to become House speaker on Thursday.
At the same time, Trump characterized their opposition to the wall as embracing "Open Borders and all of the crime and drugs that Open Borders bring!"
US media reported the lawmakers were invited to a session at the White House, though it was unclear who would attend, and whether any Democrats would be present.
Democrats say the wall idea - one of the president's key election campaign platforms - is a distraction from more complicated immigration problems and a tool for Trump to whip up support among his conservative base.
They are proposing to pass most administrative budgets lasting through September 30, while only financing until February 8 the thornier budget of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border security.
Trump expressed outrage at the idea.
"The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security - and our Country must finally have a Strong and Secure Southern Border!" he wrote on Twitter.
As the partial government shutdown continues into its second week, President Trump has invited a bipartisan group of top lawmakers to the White House for talks.
"The President has invited Republican and Democrat leaders in Congress to the White House for a border security briefing from senior Department of Homeland Security officials on Wednesday, and he remains committed to reaching an agreement that both reopens the government and keeps Americans safe," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement Tuesday.
The meeting is set a day before Democrats are set to take over the House.
President Trump hinted at the talks in a tweet earlier Tuesday.
"Border Security and the Wall 'thing' and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?" Trump asked.Replying to Trump's tweet, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who is set to take over as speaker, wrote that the president "has given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly & quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible #TrumpShutdown."
Trump has insisted on $5.7 billion for a southern border wall, but Democratic congressional leaders have stood firm against the funding.The House is expected to vote on a funding bill to end the partial government shutdown on Thursday. That's the first day of the new Congress, when Democrats will take control of the chamber and are expected to elect Pelosi as speaker.
According to Pelosi, the legislation will include the full-year appropriations for six of the seven outstanding funding bills. And it would provide stopgap funding until Feb. 8 for the Department of Homeland Security, which is where the fight over border wall funding is contained.
"It is important to note that these bills contain no new wall funding," Pelosi said in a letter Tuesday to Democratic House members.
Sanders said the Democrats "so far have refused to compromise" and called Pelosi's plan a "non-starter because it does not fund our homeland security or keep American families safe from human trafficking, drugs, and crime."
About 800,000 federal employees are furloughed during the partial shutdown or are working without pay. On Friday, Trump issued an executive order freezing the salary rates for civilian federal workers.