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Trump 'proud' to shut down government in wall talks with Democrats

By
Danielle Haynes
President Donald J. Trump and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer exchange words Tuesday in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
President Donald J. Trump and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer exchange words Tuesday in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 11 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said he'd be "proud" to take the blame for shutting down the government in a heated Tuesday meeting with Democratic leaders over his proposed funding for a border wall.

Trump welcomed House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York to the Oval Office for the meeting on his proposal to spend $5 billion on the border wall. The funding is part of a budget deal that would need to be passed by Dec. 21 to avoid a partial government shutdown.

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The Democrats warned Trump on Monday night to drop the funding in order to avoid the shutdown, and things turned sour Tuesday when the two sides failed to come to terms.

"I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck," Trump said. "People in this country don't want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I won't blame you for it. The last time, you shut it down. It didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting it down.

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"I'm going to shut it down for border security."

After the meeting, Schumer criticized Trump for repeatedly saying he would shut down the government.

"Over and over and over and over. He's said it more than 20 times. President [Donald Trump] wants to throw a temper tantrum and shut down the government," he tweeted. "The American people cannot afford that."

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Pelosi said Trump "has the Senate, the White House, and the House (for the moment) under Republican control. He has the power to keep government open -- but instead, he says he's going to shut down the government."

Funding will run out Dec. 21 for agencies that employ about 600,000 federal workers: Homeland Security Department, Interior Department, Agriculture Department, the Justice Department, NASA, the Commerce Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Transportation Department, as well as smaller ones.

Lawmakers passed a short-term spending bill last week to push ahead the shutdown deadline.

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About 70 percent of the federal government, including the Pentagon and the Department of Health and Human Services, are funded through next September.

Republicans and Democrats on the Senate appropriations committee earlier this year agreed to $1.6 billion for the wall as part of appropriations for the fiscal year 2018.

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Pelosi and Schumer want Trump to approve a yearlong stopgap funding measure, also known as a continuing resolution.

Allen Cone contributed to this report.

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