Talks between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats aimed at ending a partial government shutdown collapsed in acrimony and disarray Wednesday, with Democrats accusing the president of walking out and Trump calling the meeting “a total waste of time.”
The breakdown in talks left no end in sight for the shutdown on its 19th day. Trump continued to demand billions for his U.S.-Mexico border wall as a condition for reopening the government, a push Democrats have continually rejected.
During the White House meeting, Democrats once again pressed Trump to reopen most of the government. Trump refused, instead asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., whether she would agree to his wall.
When Pelosi said “no,” Trump exited the meeting in the White House situation room.
“Well, unfortunately, the president just got up and walked out,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. “He asked Speaker Pelosi, ‘Will you agree to my wall?’ She said no. And he just got up and said, ‘Then we have nothing to discuss’ and he just walked out. Again, we saw a temper tantrum.”
Trump himself tweeted: “Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, 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!”
Republican and Democratic lawmakers then took turns addressing reporters at the White House, trading blame and accusing one another of mischaracterizing the meeting and being intransigent.
It was not clear when, or if, negotiations will begin anew. On Saturday, the partial shutdown would become the longest continuous shutdown in U.S. history.
Some 800,000 federal workers are about to lose their first paycheck since being furloughed or working without guaranteed pay. Services have been curtailed across agencies from the IRS to the Agriculture Department to the National Park Service. Democratic lawmakers say the federal workers they represent are being forced to dig into retirement savings and take other steps to contend with the financial hardship.