As garbage piles up in Washington, DC due to government shutdown, US President Donald Trump said he’s prepared to wait ‘as long as it takes’ for border wall funding. The Democrats have sworn he will ‘never’ get any of it.
In his first Cabinet meeting of 2019 on Wednesday, Trump insisted that the US needs “a physical barrier” on the border with Mexico, which he described as leaking “like a sieve.”
Trump said he is willing to keep the government shut down for “as long as it takes,” noting it “could be a long time.”
“It’s too important a subject to walk away from it,” he said.
“We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security,” Trump said, referring to the Senate minority filibustering a proposal passed in the House last month that would have given $5.6 billion in funding to building the wall as part of a border security package.
Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal. Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work. $5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2019
The new Congress will gavel into session on Thursday, with Democrats taking over the majority in the House of Representatives. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has sworn that Trump will “never” get money for the wall, while the most likely new Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) repeatedly denounced Trump’s wall as “immoral, ineffective and expensive.”
Trump has countered by arguing that the wheel is an ancient technology as well, pointing out that if walls didn’t work, former President Barack Obama wouldn’t have one around his home. He also dismissed Democrat arguments for a more high-tech solution as not enough.
“The wheel, the wall, some things never get old,” he said on Wednesday.
Trump declined to speculate if he was willing to settle for a smaller amount than $5 billion, saying only that it was a small amount compared to what is needed to finish the wall – and what the country is losing every year due to illegal immigration. A month of fighting in Afghanistan costs more than the entire wall funding, he added.
Meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Pelosi and Schumer reportedly refused to listen to a briefing about the border from Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and insisted Democrats would not approve any money for the wall.
Vice President Mike Pence thanked Trump for taking a “strong stand” on border security, while acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker praised the president for working through the Christmas and New Year holidays “while some members of Congress went on vacation.”
The funding impasse has forced the closure of a quarter of government agencies, with some 800,000 federal workers either told to stay home or work without pay until the matter is resolved. Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC are closed, and the National Park Service has stopped maintenance and trash collection, including on the National Mall right in front of the White House and the US Capitol.
Pelosi reportedly plans to pass a bill in the House that would fund the government for a month and include no funding whatsoever for the border wall, but both Trump and the Republican leadership in the Senate have said that such a bill would be dead on arrival.
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