United States President Donald Trump threatened to keep the government partially shut for months or years on Friday after he and Democratic leaders failed to resolve their dispute over the $5.6 billion request to build a wall on the Mexican border.
After the deadlocked meeting at the White House Situation Room, the Republican president threatened to take the controversial step of declaring a national emergency and building the wall without congressional approval.
Trump is withholding his support for a bill that would fully fund the government until he secures money for the wall – one of his signature campaign promises.
Following the shutdown, around 800,000 public workers have been unpaid, with about a quarter of the federal government closed for two weeks.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats had told Trump during the meeting to end the shutdown. “He resisted,” Schumer said. “In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”
Trump confirmed that comment but painted a more positive picture of the meeting, the first since a new era of divided government began when Democrats took control of the House of Representatives on Thursday.
“We had a very, very productive meeting, and we’ve come a long way,” Trump said.
Trump reportedly opened the meeting with a speech that lasted at least 15 minutes in which he insisted on the need for billions of dollars to fund a border wall.
A White House source said Trump brought up recent impeachment threats during those remarks, arguing that he had notched a strong performance as president and should not be a target for impeachment.
In his press briefing after the meeting, the President later said Nancy Pelosi, the new Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, affirmed that Democrats were not looking to impeach him.