The President’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, invited moderate Republican senators to discuss a resolution to the 19-day government shutdown. The meeting was held in Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) Senate Russell Building office on Wednesday afternoon. Five other Congress members were present. Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) were also part of the meeting. There were no Democrats present.
The bill discussed by Kushner and others contains wall funding and measures to sway Democrats such as DACA alterations and changes made to H2B visas. These Republican lawmakers have a bipartisan deal in the works but this deal calls for wall funding among other provisions. Graham is ardent on finding a compromise favored by the President although Democratic leaders rejected any proposal mentioning money for the border barrier thus far. And the President will not consider a bill unless finances for the border barrier are included.
Alexander, Collins, and Portman entered the office of Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) after the meeting. Jared Kushner did not comment on proceedings from the meeting upon his departure from Graham’s office.
The impromptu meeting hosted by Sen. Graham in his office followed hapless bickering between President Trump and Democratic Congressional leaders over the border barrier. President Trump walked out of a meeting, designed to resolve the government shutdown, with Democratic leaders. After asking House Speaker Pelosi whether she would agree to his border barrier and hearing her noncommittal response, the President abruptly left the scheduled discussion.
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), recognizing the harm done to federal workers and citizens overall, is intent on reopening the government. Accounts differ on exact wording but President Trump refuses to reopen the government for the sake of securing wall funding.
Following the brief get-together, Schumer attributed the government shutdown to the President’s temper tantrum. Pelosi described Trump as being indifferent to federal workers’ financial needs because of his prolific wealth. A compromise that will appease Democratic leaders and President Trump is non-existent when both do not budge on their respective positions.
The House of Representatives put together bills to reopen the government. These may pass the Democratic House but will make no headway in the Republican Senate. On Wednesday, President Trump indicated he will veto any legislation missing a budget for the border barrier.
Vice President Mike Pence said presidential priorities have been clear all along. Republicans will keep the government closed until the wall is dealt with. Negotiations are impossible without wall funding. One side has to give in.
On Thursday, President Trump will visit the southern border between the US and Mexico near McAllen, Texas.
Featured image via Flickr/Arturo Pardavila III