- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

President Trump is “dug in” and “resolute” on his side of the shutdown stalemate, according to Sen. John Kennedy.

“I hitched a ride on his plane with him Monday coming back from New Orleans and on this issue the president is a carnivore,” Mr. Kennedy told The Washington Times. “Unless there’s an agreement reached that includes a wall, he’s not going to give in.”

Mr. Kennedy’s assessment comes as a group of his Republican colleagues in the Senate tries to rally the troops to sign onto a bipartisan letter about a potential path to end the shutdown.

The letter, drafted by Sen. Lindsey Graham and Chris Coons, urges President Trump to support a continuing resolution that will re-open the government for three weeks while Republicans and Democrats negotiate on border wall funding.

“If you [the president] do that, we will make our best efforts to negotiate in good faith a resolution on border security,” Mr. Coons told The Times, arguing the message was simple.

In the draft of the letter, first leaked by Politico, the senators wrote that negotiations would “include debating and voting on investments on the Southern border that are necessary, effective, and appropriate to accomplish that goal.”

When reports of the letter first surfaced, the signatories were believed to be Sent. Graham, Coons, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, and Joe Manchin.

Mr. Coons declined to say how many Democrats have agreed to support the letter, stressing the ball is in the hands of Mr. Trump and the GOP.

“We’re trying to get more interested folks on board,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who appears to now be on board, told reporters.

However, several other Republican senators are remaining noncommittal, including Sen. Steve Daines, Mike Rounds and Mitt Romney.

“I’m considering it but at this point what I want are results and I’m not sure whether we get the results we want [with this],” he told reporters. “Timing is going to be a lot of it.”

Sen. John Cornyn, the former Majority Whip, said he will not be signing the letter.

Mr. Kennedy, who hasn’t read the letter yet, said it’s good to see his colleagues talking across the aisle, but need to focus on getting the president on board.

“In terms of time management, before I went through a lot of work on a letter like that — unless you just enjoy meetings — I’d call him [Trump] first,” he said.

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