Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, joined by incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, incoming House Democratic Leader Steny Hoyer, and assistant Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin, speaks to the media following a meeting between President Donald Trump and congressional leadership to talk about border security Wednesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump said the partial government shutdown that entered its 12th day Wednesday could continue for "a long time" as he met with congressional leaders.
He held steadfast to his demand for full funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border during a meeting with lawmakers at the White House. He invited the leaders back for more negotiations Friday, saying the shutdown will last "as long as it takes."
"Could be a long time, or it could be quickly. Could be a long time. It's too important a subject to walk away from," he said during a Cabinet meeting open to the media before his private session with congressional leaders in the Situation Room.
The president added he believes the people of the United States think he was right to shut down the government in order to secure the border security funding.
"Again, I could have done nothing. I could have had a lot easier presidency by doing nothing. But I'm here, I want to do it right," Trump said.
Trump posted on Twitter late Wednesday: "Sadly, there can be no REAL Border Security without the Wall!"
During the Cabinet meeting, he blamed Democrats for the nearly two-week shutdown, saying they had an eye "on 2020" and the next presidential election.
Representatives from the House, including House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; House Democratic leader-designate Steny Hoyer of Maryland; House Republican leader-designate Kevin McCarthy of California; and House Republican Whip-designate Steve Scalise of Louisiana; along with Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York; Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky; Senate Republican Whip-designate John Thune of South Dakota; and Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois met with Trump. Members from both sides of the aisle agreed little progress was made toward ending the shutdown.
"We asked the president to support the bills that we support that will open up the government," Schumer said. "I said, 'Mr. President, why should you continue your shutdown over the eight Cabinet departments?' He could not give a good answer."
McCarthy said the group "never did get through the complete briefing" led by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
"I was a little disappointed with some on the other side. Once the secretary started, Senator Schumer interrupted her and they really didn't want to hear it," he said.
Durbin added that Nielsen "has lost her credibility with most of us."
"Well, I will tell you that it became clear at the start that the government shutdown was a much bigger issue than Secretary Nielsen's view of the border," he said.
While McCarthy said he believed congressional leaders could reach an agreement to end the shutdown "rather quickly," McConnell said he didn't think "any particular progress was made today."
"We talked about all aspects of it, and it was a civil discussion and we're hopeful that somehow in the coming days and weeks we'll be able to reach an agreement," McConnell said.
After the Democrats become the majority party in the House on Thursday, Pelosi plans to bring legislation to the floor that would provide funding for the government but not for a border wall. This is the same legislation that the Senate unanimously approved before the shutdown but is now being rejected by the president and Republicans.
McConnell said he doesn't plan to bring the new House bill up for a vote. The Republicans hold a 53-47 edge in the upper chamber and 60 votes are needed to pass legtislation compared with a majority vote in the house.