0809 GMT February 20, 2019
Trump rejected a suggestion to reopen the government for several weeks while negotiations would continue with Democrats over his demands for $5.7 billion for a long, impregnable wall along the US-Mexico border.
The president also edged further away from the idea of trying to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress, AP reported.
“I’m not looking to call a national emergency,” Trump said Monday. “This is so simple we shouldn’t have to.”
No cracks were apparent in the president’s deadlock with lawmakers after a weekend with no negotiations at all. His rejection of the short-term option proposed by Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham removed one path forward, and little else was in sight.
Congressional Republicans were watching Trump for a signal for how to move next, and Democrats have not budged from their refusal to fund the wall and their demand that he reopen government before border talks resume.
The White House has been considering reaching out to rank-and-file Democrats rather than dealing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to try to chip away at Democratic opposition to the wall. A White House official said plans were in the works to call freshman representatives, especially those who initially did not support Pelosi’s bid for the speakership.
It was uncertain whether any Democrats would respond to the invitation.
Separately, around a dozen senators from both parties met Monday to discuss ways out of the shutdown gridlock.
Lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill late Monday “discouraged,” according to GOP Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, as all signals pointed to a protracted fight.
Meanwhile, the impact of the 25-day partial government closure was intensifying around the country. Some 800,000 federal workers missed paychecks Friday, deepening anxieties about mortgage payments and unpaid bills, and about half of them were off the job, cutting off some services. Travelers at the Atlanta airport, the nation’s busiest, dealt with waits of more than an hour Monday as no-shows by security screeners soared.
Trump spent the weekend in the White House reaching out to aides and lawmakers and tweeting aggressively about Democratic foes as he tried to make the case that the wall was needed on both security and humanitarian grounds. He stressed that argument repeatedly during a speech at a farming convention in New Orleans on Monday, insisting there was “no substitute” for a wall or a barrier along the southern border.
Trump has continued to insist he has the power to sign an emergency declaration to deal with what he says is a crisis of drug smuggling and trafficking of women and children at the border. But he now appears to be in no rush to make such a declaration.
Instead, he is focused on pushing Democrats to return to the negotiating table — though he walked out of the most recent talks last week — and seized on the fact that a group of House and Senate Democrats were on a retreat in Puerto Rico.
Recent polling finds a slight majority of Americans opposed to building a wall along the US-Mexico border — and few see the situation at the border as a crisis — but views are predictably divided by partisanship.
Polls also show that Americans are more likely to fault Trump for the shutdown. A large majority of Democrats put responsibility on Trump, while a slightly smaller majority of Republicans blame Democrats. A modest share of Republicans either hold Trump responsible or say both sides are at fault.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll published Jan. 13 found that 54 percent of Americans oppose a wall along the border, while 42 percent express support for it. Fully 87 percent of Republicans favor the wall, compared with about as many Democrats (84 percent) who are opposed.