Trump threatens prolonged shutdown: top Senate Democrat

Fri 04 Jan 2019 19:52 GMT | 23:52 Local Time

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President vows to 'keep the government closed for a very long period of time,' Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer says.

U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the government for months or possibly years unless he gets the $5 billion he is seeking for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the top Senate Democrat said Friday, according to Anadolu Agency.

"We told the president we needed the government opened. He resisted. In fact, he said he'd keep the government closed for a very long period of time," Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said after meeting with Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the White House.

The remarks come as the partial shutdown hits its second full week, with roughly 800,000 federal employees forced to either work without pay or be involuntarily furloughed.

The House passed Thursday night a bill that would fund agencies currently forced to shutter their doors, but the White House has threatened to veto the measure because of its lack of funding for the wall, and its fate in the Republican-controlled Senate is all but assuredly doomed.

At least two Republicans in the chamber have signaled they would vote for the funding measure, including Senator Susan Collins.

But Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would not allow any bill on the Senate floor without the president's endorsement, calling the House measure "a time-wasting act of political posturing."

While Schumer described Friday's talks with the president -- the second in three days -- as "somewhat contentious," Trump's characterization was far more optimistic calling the meeting "very, very productive."

"We're all on the same path in terms of wanting to get the government open," Trump said, noting that a team from the White House would meet this weekend to discuss his proposal for the wall with lawmakers.

Trump promised the barrier on the campaign trail in 2016, vowing at the time to have Mexico pay for its construction. But amid unwavering opposition from the Mexican government, Trump appears to have deferred the cost to the U.S. taxpayer, at least for the immediate future.

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