- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The White House said President Trump had a “constructive” meeting with bipartisan lawmakers from the congressional “problem solvers caucus” Wednesday on the partial government shutdown.

“They listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants,” said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “We look forward to more conversations like this.”

Seven Democratic House lawmakers attended the meeting, a day after other Democrats turned down the president’s invitation to meet.

Among the Democrats who attended the session in the White House Situation Room were Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey; Thomas Suozzi, Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose of New York; Vincente Gonzalez of Texas, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia.

After the meeting, Ms. Spanberger called the session “productive.”

Mr. Rose said his message to the president was to reopen the government first, then negotiate over border security.

“The State of the Union is that we are not open for business,” Mr. Rose said on Fox News. “There is bipartisan support right now for opening this government back up as quickly as possible, and then have a sensible and substantive discussion about how we can preserve our national security and … uphold our values in the process. The shutdown is absolutely a national crisis.”

He said the president understands that “whether it’s a Secret Service agent, a TSA agent, someone working for the Coast Guard, that people are now suffering. They can’t put food on the table potentially.”

The meeting was the second time in two days that Mr. Trump tried an end-run around House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to reach moderate Democrats. The problem-solvers group consists of about 50 House lawmakers in both parties.

Prior to the meeting, the Democrats said there is “strong agreement across the aisle and around the country: We must reopen the government. Our security, safety, and economy have been compromised, and millions of families are suffering.”

They added, “There is also strong agreement that if we reopen the government, the possibility exists to work together and find common ground to tackle some of our country’s toughest problems and fix them. But that conversation can only begin in earnest once the government is reopened. We accepted the White House’s invitation to meet today to convey that message.”

Mrs. Sanders said the White House position hasn’t changed.

“Our hope is the same that it’s been since this conversation started, and that’s that we’ll get actual funding for real border security and the wall,” she told reporters. “We’re hopeful that Democrats — whether it’s the group today or leadership — will get serious about the crisis at the border.”

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