On the first day of the new session of Congress, House Democrats passed a series of spending bills that would reopen the government and end the partial government shutdown, even as Republicans in the Senate said they would reject the measures and the White House threatened to veto them.
Congressional Democrats wrapped a "contentious" two-hour meeting at the White House on Friday with leaders expressing little optimism about ending the partial government shutdown. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Trump threatened to keep the government shutdown going for "months or even years."
"We told the president we needed the government open,” said Schumer. "He resisted. In fact, he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years."
Following the meeting with Congressional leaders, President Donald Trump appeared in the Rose Garden along with Vice President Mike Pence to make his case on why they want the wall.
"The only way you're going to stop that is by having a solid steel structure or concrete structure, whether it’s a wall or some form of very powerful steel," Trump said, noting that steel was "more expensive," but that "I think we're probably talking about steel."
"We mentioned the price that we want, $5.6 billion very strongly, these numbers are thrown around... This is national security we're talking about. We’re not talking about games. We’re talking about national security," Trump said.
Six appropriation bills were voted on by the House late Thursday night, passing 241-190. Lawmakers also narrowly approved a measure that extended funding for the Department of Homeland Security until Feb. 8.
Trump has asked Congress for $5.6 billion to fund one of his central campaign promises: to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but the newly-minted Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would oppose any federal money for the wall.
"A wall is an immorality between countries," said Pelosi (D-CA) Thursday. "It's an old way of thinking. It isn't cost effective."
"We're not doing a wall," Pelosi added.
As the stalemate between congress and the White House is poised to enter its third week, Trump and his allies touted the border wall as essential to blocking illegal immigration into the United States. On Thursday, the president made a spontaneous appearance in the White House press room along with members of the border patrol union to push support for building the wall.
"Without a wall, you cannot have border security," said Trump.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says that until Trump gets the wall, the government will stay shutdown.
"Until he gets it, we'll have to stay in a shutdown," Sanders said Friday on Fox & Friends.
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