WASHINGTON — The 18-day shutdown of the federal government showed little sign of ending after President Donald Trump walked out of a White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer said Trump left the meeting abruptly after he asked Pelosi whether she would support his demand for a border wall, and she said no. Trump then said, “We have nothing to discuss,” and walked out.
“We saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way,” Schumer told reporters gathered on the White House driveway.
Pelosi focused on the federal workers who were not getting paid during the shutdown.
“The president seems to be insensitive to that. He seems to think maybe they can just ask their father for more money, but they can’t,” she said.
Trump confirmed that he did leave the meeting, and said in a tweet that he had asked Pelosi “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!” Trump wrote. He called the meeting a “waste of time.”
Vice President Mike Pence and Republican leaders challenged some of Schumer’s version of the tone of the meeting, denying that Trump “slammed the table” or raised his voice. In fact, he said that Trump brought candy to pass out at the start of the gathering.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that it was Pelosi who “began to argue whether we have a crisis and whether or not it is true.” Schumer, he said, “began to raise his voice.”
He called the behavior of the Democratic leaders “embarrassing.”
This was the third meeting at the White House between Trump and congressional leaders over the impasse.
Trump “has put offers on the table. Not once have the Democrats offered anything back. The entire time I have been in these meetings, they want to just argue so people can’t present a fact,” McCarthy said.
Just an hour before, Trump visited Capitol Hill, where he insisted that Republicans were united in their support for his position that Congressional appropriations should include border wall funding. Trump said in a meeting with Schumer and Pelosi in December that he would be “proud” to shut down the government over border security.
GOP members are not all in support of the shutdown strategy. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) each called for reopening the government while negotiations continue.
On Tuesday, Trump gave a primetime address from the Oval Office, where he called border security a “crisis,” and characterized Democrats as intractable in their refusal to support wall funding.
The acrimonious nature of the meeting raises the prospect that Trump will declare a national emergency to get the wall built. That move would bypass Congress and enable him to obtain funds from the Defense Department to build the barrier. But that is also likely to be challenged in court. Pence indicated to reporters that declaring an emergency was still an option that the president was considering.
According to early data from Nielsen, Fox News topped cable news networks and some of the broadcasters in their coverage of Trump’s speech. In the 9-9:15 p.m. ET time frame, they garnered 8.2 million viewers, to 4 million for MSNBC and 3.4 million for CNN. The Democratic response drew 7.9 million viewers to Fox News, 4.5 million to MSNBC and 3.7 million to CNN. CNN topped MSNBC in the 18-34 and 24-54 demographic.