House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif, right, speaks as she stands next to Senate Minority Leader Sen Chuck Schumer of NY, left, following their meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, Jan 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump on Wednesday abruptly walked out from a meeting with congressional leaders, saying later that his talks with top Democrats on ending the partial government shutdown were "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!
"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 after his fresh engagement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
The meeting turned out to have only exacerbated an already intense partisan fight over Trump's unbending demand for more than 5 billion US dollars for funding a wall along the US-Mexican border. The Democrats remain staunchly opposed to the idea while Trump resolutely vowed not to give in.
Emerging from the contentious discussion, Pelosi and Schumer criticized Trump for being obsessive about his wall and ignoring the plight of the hundreds of thousands of federal employees affected by a protracted partial government shutdown, which stemmed from the wall-funding dispute.
The closure, involving a quarter of federal offices whose congressional appropriations have expired, has dragged on for 19 days now and is about to become the longest one in US history.
"Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he (Trump) couldn't get his way and he just walked out of the meeting," Schumer said.
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He insisted that the Democrats remain willing to reach an agreement with the president, saying Trump's refusal to sign off what the Democrats proposed to him several weeks ago "was really, really unfortunate and in my judgment somewhat unbecoming of a presidency."
Vice President Mike Pence then threw the blame back to the Democrats, saying they "are unwilling to engage in good faith negotiations."
Pence was echoed by his Republican colleague, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who disputed Schumer's account of what happened during the meeting, saying what the Democrats described was "totally different than what took place."
The meeting was announced by Trump in his Oval Office speech Tuesday. It was the first time in his presidency for him to deliver a live national address inside that symbolic room. Trump boasted that he could solve the stalemate "in a 45-minute meeting."
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