(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump said he had had a "productive" and "very, very good meeting" after talks with top Democrats and other congressional leaders at the White House Friday in an effort to end the partial government shutdown now heading into the third week.
Trump, speaking in the Rose Garden, said staff-level talks would continue over the weekend and expressed optimism about a resolution to the standoff over the president's demand that Democrats pass a measure to pay for the wall he wants on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Just minutes earlier, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters outside the White House that Trump told lawmakers in their nearly hour and a half meeting that he is prepared to keep the government closed "for a very long period of time, months or even years."
House Speaker Pelosi called the meeting "contentious."
Trump, answering a reporter in the Rose Garden, confirmed that he made the threat and agreed that the meeting was "contentious" despite his earlier upbeat tone.
Schumer also said Trump resisted Democratic pleas to reopen the government as discussions continue.
"The bottom line is very simple. We made a plea to the president once again. Don't hold millions of Americans hundreds of thousands of workers hostage. Open up the government and let's continue the discussions," Schumer said.
"How do you define progress when you have a better understanding of each other's position? When you eliminate some possibilities?" Pelosi said. "If that's a judgment, then yes, we made progress," she said before turning on her heels with Democrats to leave the White House.
Friday's meeting largely mirrored a Situation Room briefing on border security Wednesday with the same eight members of leadership for both parties in the House and Senate. Friday's briefing took place in the Situation Room and was not open to press coverage.
The meeting also came after the House and Senate adjourned Friday morning. The two chambers are set to return next Tuesday, all but assuring that the partial government shutdown will likely continue well into next week.
Fresh off her election as House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi was expected to pressure the president to sign a series of measures House Democrats passed Thursday evening that would open the six federal agencies shuttered in the government shutdown and extend Department of Homeland Security funding through Feb. 8 to make time for negotiations on border security.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he would not bring the bills for a vote in his chamber without approval from the president, who has only dug in on his demands for more than $5 billion in funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
"The package presented by the House's new Democratic leaders yesterday can only be seen as a time-wasting act of political posturing," McConnell announced on the Senate floor Friday morning.
He went on: "It does not carry the support of the president … the president would actually veto it. And it cannot earn the support of 60 of my colleagues over here in the Senate. My friends across the aisle understand the ground rules perfectly well."
But there were new signs of cracks in the GOP line as Republican members awaited word from the White House on what exactly the president might sign that would satisfy a sufficient number of Democrats to pass out of the Senate, where a 60-vote threshold is required.
Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, both said they would support measures that would end the partial shutdown and not provide the funding demanded by the president for his border wall.
Reacting to Gardner and Collins' statements, press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Friday the president wouldn't back down.
"Look the president has the support of the American people because they want to feel safe," Sanders said. "The number one duty that the president has and frankly that Congress shares with him is to protect the people in this country."
Both sides made no progress in the Wednesday meeting as President Trump and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen sought to exclusively focus on the need for a wall, which Democrats have described as unnecessary and "immoral" in the broader argument for enhanced border security.
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