US President Donald Trump walked out of a meeting with congressional Democrats to end a partial government shutdown, now in its third week, calling the discussions “a total waste of time”.
“Just left a meeting with Chuck (Schumer, House Minority Leader) and Nancy (Pelosi, House Speaker), a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!” Trump tweeted on Wednesday night.
Top congressional Democrats blasted Trump after the meeting at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of indifference to struggling federal workers and not trying to negotiate as the government shutdown drags on, reports CNN.
“Unfortunately, the President just got up and walked out,” Schumer said.
“He asked Speaker Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss’, and he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way, and he just walked out of the meeting.”
The meeting comes a day after the President in a primetime address to the nation appealed to the American people to pressure legislators to fund the border wall he wants and end the government shutdown.
In the meeting, Pelosi informed the President that she was concerned about ports of entry, something which he agreed with.
Trump said there was money allotted in the administration’s priority list that beefed up the ports of entry.
But Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, also present at the meeting, interjected to say that even if the ports of entry eliminated all drug smuggling, smugglers would find another way in, which is why the barrier structure is important, sparking the most heated exchange of the meeting between Pelosi and Trump.
After Trump left, Vice President Mike Pence then asked for a counter-offer from Democrats — asking what they are willing to work on, so the White House would have a better idea to move forward.
However, the Democrats didn’t offer one, after which Schumer and Pelosi also left.
A White House official told CNN that a national emergency declaration was still on the table over the ongoing border crisis.
Wednesday’s meeting came just hours before the House of Representatives was expected to vote on individual bills to help reopen the government.