Trump Walks Out Of Meeting With Pelosi, Schumer On Government Shutdown The president abruptly ended spending talks Wednesday after congressional Democrats rejected his demand for a $5.7 billion border wall. A partial government shutdown stretched into its 19th day.
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'Bye-Bye': Trump Walks Out Of White House Meeting With Democrats About Shutdown

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'Bye-Bye': Trump Walks Out Of White House Meeting With Democrats About Shutdown

'Bye-Bye': Trump Walks Out Of White House Meeting With Democrats About Shutdown

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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Bye-bye. That, according to a tweet from President Trump, is how a meeting between the president and Democratic congressional leaders ended late this afternoon. It was yet another meeting to try and find a solution to the partial government shutdown over a wall at the southern border, now in Day 19.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer added some detail to what happened at the contentious meeting as he and Democrats were leaving the White House.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHUCK SCHUMER: Well, unfortunately, the president just got up and walked out. 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.

CORNISH: NPR's Kelsey Snell has been following these developments. She joins me now. Hey there, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi there.

CORNISH: So this was supposed to be a chance to make progress - right? - on ending the shutdown. Where does it leave things?

SNELL: Well, basically nowhere. This is actually worse than where we were yesterday when they were pretty much dug in on both sides. The meeting lasted about half an hour, which is far less than the last several meetings that they have had.

And Republicans at the meeting kind of disputed Schumer's characterization there. Schumer said that the president slammed his hands on the table and walked out. The vice president says he doesn't recall that happening - the slamming or the raised voices. And they said Trump brought everyone candy.

But at the end of the day, he did walk out, and they are not negotiating anymore.

CORNISH: This wasn't the only meeting today in Washington, right? I mean, is there a path forward?

SNELL: Well, it's really hard to see how they resolve it. It's - it - this is - this kind of new frustration is a departure from where things were at that meeting. Trump sat down with Senate Republicans. And during that lunch, he talked a lot about unity. And when I talked to Republicans leaving the meeting, they said they thought the only way for this to end is for both sides to compromise in some way.

And I thought it was really interesting that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who's really not somebody we usually know for his willingness to compromise, was pretty clear about what he wanted.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RAND PAUL: I like the middle ground, frankly, splitting the difference. I think 2 1/2 billion, and the government opens back up. And he doesn't get everything he wants, and the Democrats don't get everything they want. I mean, really, I think it's an untenable - both are untenable positions.

SNELL: Right. So he's saying $2 1/2 billion for border security and the wall, which is down from President Trump's ask of $5.7 billion. But that is not at all what Republicans were talking about after that White House meeting. So it sounds like we're back to square one.

CORNISH: Does it mean that there is a greater chance that the president could still decide to declare a national emergency to build the wall?

SNELL: Well, that came up at the lunch between the president and Republicans. And senators, including Tim Scott of South Carolina, said that Trump indicated that he isn't interested in going down that route at this time. And Trump himself had softened his position on it when he talked to reporters today.

But he said that if Democrats won't deal, that the national emergency is an option. And I think that there is a really strong chance that he could return to that now that this meeting fell apart.

CORNISH: How is Congress responding to that idea?

SNELL: Well, some notable Republicans, like Mac Thornberry, who is the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said that they don't support it. There are other Republicans who say it could turn into a legal challenge - that this could drag on, and the wall could never be built if, you know, the president goes down the route of a national emergency that Congress doesn't approve of.

And mostly until now, they've been able to avoid the question as a hypothetical. But as things go forward, and as this digs in further, it gets really hard for them to avoid the question - right? - because people are asking the president about it, and the president keeps addressing it himself.

CORNISH: Is there anything that could bring people back to the table?

SNELL: Well, there are a couple of things that are still floating around, and one of those is that, you know, there are 800,000 employees out there - federal employees who either aren't working or are working without a paycheck. And this coming Friday is the first time that that paycheck won't get paid.

And, you know, one person who kind of explained it is Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who said she's really, really worried that this Friday is the exact moment when things get tough.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

LISA MURKOWSKI: I was certainly one who has expressed clearly that I don't like government shutdowns. I don't think that they are a good way to govern.

SNELL: And that - that's her kind of softening, right? She's saying that, you know, she wants to get out of this somehow. And later, she told us that she raised the issue with President Trump, and she said he listened and urged unity on the entire strategy, but he really didn't say much more than that. So it's unclear what will really get people moving.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Kelsey Snell. Kelsey, thank you.

SNELL: Thank you.

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