President Donald Trump walked out of discussions to end a partial government shutdown, now in its third week, calling discussions with congressional Democrats “a total waste of time.”
“Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, 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 said.
Top congressional Democrats blasted Trump after the meeting Wednesday afternoon, accusing him of indifference to struggling federal workers and not trying to negotiate as the government shutdown drags on.
“Unfortunately, the President just got up and walked out,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “He asked Speaker (Nancy) 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.”
A source familiar with what happened inside the room said Trump ended the meeting by standing up and announcing “bye bye” before turning and walking out.
As Democrats repeatedly told the President to open the government and deal with the border security fight after, the President continued to reject them as unwilling to have an actual negotiation, another source said.
Schumer then asked Trump, “Why won’t you open the government and stop hurting people?”
Trump responded bluntly, “Because then you won’t give me what I want.”
The meeting at the White House came just hours before the House of Representatives is expected to vote on individual bills to help reopen the government. The bills aren’t expected to go anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate at this time but the maneuver is aimed at putting pressure on Republicans. Trump promised earlier Wednesday to veto that legislation if it reached his desk.
Pelosi, speaking alongside Schumer outside the White House, said Trump was “insensitive” to federal workers missing pay during the shutdown and alluded to Trump’s own privileged upbringing.
“He thinks maybe they could just ask their father for money, but they can’t,” Pelosi said.
She added, “If you don’t understand financial insecurity then you would have a policy that takes pride in saying, ‘I’m going to keep government shut down for months or years unless you totally agree to my position.’ ”
Top Republicans spoke to the media after the Democratic statements and took issue with their characterization of the meeting, though they did not dispute that Trump left the meeting. Among them were Vice President Mike Pence, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and South Dakota GOP Sen. John Thune.
Notably, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not appear alongside them.
Pence said Trump told the Democrats “goodbye” after Pelosi denied his request for a wall, and contended the move made clear Trump would not end the shutdown without his border measures.
“What the President made clear today is he is going to stand firm to achieve his priorities to build a wall, a steel barrier on the southern border, add additional personnel, additional resources, additional reforms to stem the crisis that we face on our southern border,” Pence said.
McCarthy likewise pushed back on the Democratic description of the meeting, noting that Trump “even brought a little candy for everybody.” The exact candy was not specified but according to a source familiar at least one Butterfingers was spotted as well as Baby Ruth bars and M&Ms.
The California Republican said Trump had gone back and forth with Pelosi and Schumer, and then eventually asked Pelosi, ” ‘OK, Nancy, if we open the government up in 30 days, could we have border security?’ ”
“She raised her hand and said, ‘No, not at all,’ ” McCarthy recalled. “The President calmly said, ‘I guess you’re still not wanting to deal with the problem.’ ”
Wednesday’s meeting came a day after Trump delivered an Oval Office address standing by his demand for Congress to fund his border wall with Mexico and Democrats continued to refuse the request. With no apparent end in sight to the disagreement, the shutdown was due to enter its 20th day.