Trump to Meet Congressional Leaders as Shutdown Stretches On

Trump to Meet Congressional Leaders as Shutdown Stretches On

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Representative Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader, and her Senate counterpart, Chuck Schumer, during a press conference last month. President Trump will meet with congressional leaders at the White House on Wednesday.CreditCreditSarah Silbiger/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump plans to host congressional leaders on Wednesday in the White House Situation Room for a border security briefing that could either be the latest skirmish over his wall or the beginnings of a resolution to a government shutdown that is stretching into its 12th day.

The 3 p.m. gathering will be in the secure room in the White House basement where military operations are tracked and other sensitive discussions unfold, a conscious effort to infuse a sense of national-security crisis into the immigration discussion. It will be Mr. Trump’s first face-to-face meeting with Democratic leaders since a combative session last month when he said he would insist that any government spending bill include money for a wall on the southwestern border — and would proudly own the consequences if that meant a shutdown.

Democrats have refused to allocate any money — let alone the $ 5 billion that Mr. Trump has demanded — for a large, physical barrier like the wall desired by the president to thwart illegal border crossings. Instead, Democrats, in full control of the House, will vote Thursday on two bills to fund most of the government through Sept. 30 and the Department of Homeland Security to Feb. 8.

They would devote $ 1.3 billion for border security measures, such as enhanced surveillance and fortified fencing.

“We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer,” Ms. Pelosi, who will assume the speakership on Thursday, wrote in a letter to House Democrats on Tuesday night. “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.”

But Mr. Trump has called the Homeland Security funding proposal — which the Senate passed unanimously last month — unacceptable, saying that it shows that Democrats, as he tweeted on Tuesday, “do not care about Open Borders.”

Senior Democratic aides said they had low expectations for the session, which they predicted would be a stunt manufactured for dramatic optics with a one-sided presentation from the White House, that would not yield progress toward a resolution of the impasse.

“It’s not often the president gets to hear people tell him when he’s wrong,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. “Democrats intend to do that today.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump repeated his false claims about the border wall, including that Mexico was already paying for it, as he promised during his campaign, and that much of its construction had already been completed.

The president has puzzled lawmakers and his own aides with his contention that Mexico is financing the wall through the revised Nafta trade pact between Mexico, Canada and the United States, known as the USMCA. The agreement contains no such proviso, and it is designed to lower tariffs, not raise them.

And while Mr. Trump claims that the wall is already being built, the Republican-controlled Congress enacted legislation barring any money from being spent to do so, and no such construction has occurred. The Trump administration has spent less than 10 percent of the other border security funding, for fencing and other measures, that Congress provided over the last year.

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NYT > Politics

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