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US President Donald Trump has refused to budge over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the border with Mexico, with Democratic congressional leaders likewise holding firm on their refusal to fund the scheme, sending a partial US government shutdown into its 12th day.
After meeting today in the high-security Situation Room at the White House, the President and Republican and Democratic representatives will on Friday (local time) again come together in an attempt to find a solution to the stalemate.
The President made his case for wall funding anew ahead of the session with Democratic and Republican leaders, pointing to migrants arriving at the border in recent days, but indicated he was in no rush for a resolution to the impasse.
He said the border was "like a sieve" and referred to US officials recently firing tear gas at those trying to cross to the US.
He described border officials as "very tough" at keeping immigrants out.
"If they knew they couldn't come through, they wouldn't even start," Mr Trump said at a meeting joined by Cabinet secretaries and top advisers.
The Cabinet meeting was the President's first public appearance of the new year as the shutdown dragged into its second week, leaving hundreds of thousands of federal employees without pay.
So far, the administration has rejected a proposal from Democrats to re-open government services without money to build a wall along the US-Mexico border.
The President "wants an agreement that reopens the government AND keeps Americans safe," the White House said on Twitter.
Mr Trump contended the Democrats see the shutdown fight as "an election point" as he celebrated his own first two years in office. He promised "six more years of great success".
The briefing with congressional leaders took place one day before Democrats will assume control of the House and end the Republican monopoly on the Government.
Democrats said they asked Mr Trump directly during the private meeting why he would not consider their package of bills aimed at ending the shutdown.
"I said, 'Mr President, give me one good reason why you should continue your shutdown'," Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said afterward.
"He could not give a good answer."
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become Speaker on Thursday (local time), said Democrats would take action to "end the Trump Shutdown" by immediately passing legislation to reopen government.
"We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer," she wrote in a letter to colleagues.
"Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the President's third shutdown of his term."
Mr Trump's aides suggested there would not necessarily be a traditional wall as he has repeatedly insisted since his presidential campaign, but he contradicted them.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Trump tweeted: "The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security."
The Republican-led Senate will not consider Democratic funding bills that do not include Mr Trump's demand for $5 billion for a border wall, US Senate leader Mitch McConnell said.
"The Senate will not waste its time considering a Democratic bill which cannot pass this chamber and which the President will not sign," Mr McConnell said on the Senate floor.
Even if only symbolic, the passage of the bills in the House would put fresh pressure on the President.
But Mr Trump said he would keep the government partially shut for "as long as it takes" to secure funding for the border wall.
Administration officials said he believed he had public opinion and his base on his side.The Democratic package to end the shutdown would include one bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels — with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than the $5 billion Mr Trump has said he wants fo
True enough. The Ruling Establishment in America is so opposed to President Trump because he openly stands in opposition to them. This is also why freedom loving Americans stand with him despite all his personality, um, 'flaws.'
Do try to consider that reality is not what you read or hear from the usual
suspects sources . . .
Yes, but recovery will take a long time
The Trump presidency made a deep descent in December. The departures of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, the appointment of senior persons of lesser experience, the abandonment of allies who fight beside us, and the president's thoughtless claim that America has long been a “sucker” in world affairs all defined his presidency down.
Donald Trump was not my choice for the Republican presidential nomination. After he became the nominee, I hoped his campaign would refrain from resentment and name-calling. It did not. When he won the election, I hoped he would rise to the occasion. His early appointments of Rex Tillerson, Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley, Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster, Kelly, and Mattis were encouraging. But, on balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions last month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.
It is not that all of the president’s policies have been misguided. But policies and appointments are only a part of a presidency.
To a great degree, a presidency shapes the public character of the nation. A president should unite us and inspire us to follow “our better angels.” A president should demonstrate the essential qualities of honesty and integrity, and elevate the national discourse with comity and mutual respect. As a nation, we have been blessed with presidents who have called on the greatness of the American spirit. With the nation so divided, resentful and angry, presidential leadership in qualities of character is indispensable. And it is in this province where the incumbent’s shortfall has been most glaring.
The world is also watching. America has long been looked to for leadership. Our economic and military strength was part of that, of course, but our enduring commitment to principled conduct in foreign relations, and to the rights of all people to freedom and equal justice, was even more esteemed. Trump’s words and actions have caused dismay around the world. In a 2016 Pew Research Center poll, 84 percent of people in Germany, Britain, France, Canada, and Sweden believed the American president would “do the right thing in world affairs.” One year later, that number had fallen to 16 percent. This comes at a very unfortunate time. Several allies in Europe are experiencing political upheaval. Several former Soviet satellite states are rethinking their commitment to democracy. Some Asian nations, such as the Philippines, lean increasingly toward China, which advances to rival our economy and our military.The world needs American leadership, and it is in America’s interest to provide it. A world led by authoritarian regimes is a world — and an America — with less prosperity, less freedom, less peace.