- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Congressional Democrats on Wednesday said President Trump’s Oval Office address Tuesday evening did little to move the ball forward on ending a partial shutdown of the federal government and that Mr. Trump needs to back off his demands for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.

“I don’t think he persuaded a soul with his talk last night,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “It was same old, same old — mistruths, divisiveness.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump spread more “malice and misinformation” in his speech.

“He has chosen a wall over workers,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

The two Democratic leaders appeared on Capitol Hill with federal workers who have been furloughed as a result of the shutdown.

“Our federal workers just want to do their job. It’s time you do yours,” Mr. Schumer said.

The White House told congressional leaders earlier this week that the administration wants $5.7 billion for the construction of a steel barrier along the southern border.

The House last week passed legislation that would provide funding through Sept. 30 for eight of the nine shuttered federal agencies and extend through Feb. 8 current-year funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which includes $1.3 billion for border security.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer didn’t answer directly when asked if the endgame could be a dollar amount for the wall somewhere in the middle of what both sides are demanding.

“We have been negotiating,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The White House seems to move the goalposts every time they come with a proposal. … If we can come to some agreement, we want it in writing so the public can see it, so it doesn’t change.”

Republicans, meanwhile, pointed out that Democrats have supported funding for a barrier along the border in the past.

“All of a sudden Democrats have developed this new partisan allergy to the subject of border security,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier Wednesday on the Senate floor. “They’re even prolonging a partial government shutdown just to avoid getting more of what they themselves have voted for in the past.”

In his first Oval Office address, the president on Tuesday called on Congress to fund border security and end the partial government shutdown, saying a “barrier” is critical to securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

“This situation could be solved in a 45-minute meeting,” Mr. Trump said. “Hopefully, we can rise above partisan politics. The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only — because Democrats will not fund border security.”

Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are scheduled to attend the Senate Republican lunch on Capitol Hill Wednesday, and Mr. Trump is supposed to meet with congressional leaders at the White House later in the afternoon.


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