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(Bloomberg) — A delegation of top White House aides led by Vice President Mike Pence will meet again with congressional staff on Sunday after a two-and-a-half hour discussion Saturday was unable to forge a deal to end the partial government shutdown now into its third week.
The vice president described the meeting, at his ceremonial office across the street from the White House, as a “productive discussion.”
White House negotiators reaffirmed the president’s “commitment to secure the border, build the wall, keep Americans safe” and reopen the government, Pence said on Twitter.
The gathering featured Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who provided a full briefing of what the administration contends is an immigration crisis on the Southern border, said one White House and two congressional aides who asked not to be identified to discuss the private meeting.
The White House had invited congressional leaders to hear the briefing over a pair of meetings earlier this week, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer interrupted the presentation to instead attempt to engage President Donald Trump in negotiations to end the shutdown.The administration is expected to prepare a budget sheet for Sunday’s meeting outlining their requests for border security measures, according to one congressional aide. That could serve as the basis for negotiations, with Democrats having previously signaled they would be willing to fund some measures — but not Trump’s signature wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that the White House has said is central to ending the impasse.
No Dollar Amounts
Saturday’s discussion, which was also attended by administration aides including presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, legislative affairs director Shahira Knight, and Pence national security adviser Keith Kellogg, didn’t feature an in-depth discussion about specific dollar amounts, according to the White House aide.
Trump didn’t attend the meeting, instead remaining in the White House residence and posting regular tweets about the shutdown and border security.
Pence said ahead of the meeting that his aim was to find a solution not only to end the government shutdown but to provide funding for Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Saturday marked day 15 of the partial shutdown, which has closed nine of 15 federal departments and left hundreds of thousands of workers on furlough or working without pay. Trump and Republicans remain at an impasse with Democrats over Trump’s demand for about $5 billion to fund construction of the border barrier.
The president on Friday said he could declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress and build a border wall, after telling Democrats he’s prepared to keep part of the government shut for a year or longer if his demands aren’t met.
That assertion — made during a news conference at the White House — was met with skepticism from within the Republican Party and sharp criticism from Democrats.
In a handful of Twitter messages on Saturday about border security, Trump said that “great support” was coming from all sides about the need to secure the southern border “(including Wall)” and that Democrats could solve the shutdown problem “in a very short period of time.” He also said the border represents “a big Human Trafficking problem,” and that “most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats.”