Trump digs in on wall before meeting with congressional leaders

 
“The United States needs a physical barrier,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting. “It needs a wall.”

Trump said government agencies could remain closed for “a long time” and stated he will keep them shut down “as long as it takes” to secure wall funding.
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During remarks that lasted more than 90 minutes, the president blamed the shutdown on Democrats, who have repeatedly turned down his requests for money to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
 
“We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security,” he said, later accusing Democrats of playing politics because they have an eye “on 2020.”
 
His comments suggest little progress will be made later Wednesday, when Republican and Democratic leaders come to the White House for what Trump’s aides have called a “briefing” on border security.
 
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security plan to brief lawmakers on the situation at the southwest border during the 3 p.m. meeting in the Situation Room, which is traditionally reserved for high-level military or national security briefings.
 
The shutdown entered its 12th day on Wednesday, but neither side has given any indication they are willing to back down on their demands.
 
Democrats plan to pass legislation that would end the shutdown, but without border wall money, after they take over the House majority on Thursday.
 
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday that the Democratic plan "is a non-starter” because it does not include wall money to “keep American families safe from human trafficking, drugs, and crime.”

Speaking during the Cabinet meeting, Vice President Pence praised Trump for taking a “strong stand” on border security but also said the White House is willing to negotiate with Democrats.

“We’re ready to deal. We have an offer on the table,” Pence said.

The White House last week proposed roughly $2.1 billion in wall funding plus hundreds of millions more for general border security, but Democratic leaders did not respond to the proposal.

White House officials contacted reporters late last week to tout the proposal and blame Democrats for not accepting it.

But Trump on Wednesday said that he would not accept that amount, regardless of whether Democrats would.

“No, not 2.5, no,” Trump said, adding that “we're asking for 5.6” and that is “such a small number.”

The reversal shows how lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been vexed by Trump’s mixed signals on what he wants from the funding measure.

Trump last month was expected to sign a budget deal that did not include wall funding, but he backed away at the last minute following pressure from conservative lawmakers and cable news pundits. The partial shutdown began a couple of days later.

The president then canceled his planned Christmas and New Year's trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., citing the shutdown. No progress was made toward a resolution during the holidays since most lawmakers weren't in Washington while Trump was at the White House.

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker praised the president for “giving up” his holiday vacation “while some members of Congress went on vacation.”

Trump later said his job would be “a lot easier if I just relaxed and enjoyed the presidency like a lot of other people have done.”

A number of proposals have been floated for ending the impasse. 

Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMcConnell blocks House bill to reopen government for second time Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks GOP senators propose bill to pay 'excepted' workers during shutdown MORE (R-Tenn.) in an op-ed in The Washington Post offered three options, including one that would protect certain immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children under an Obama-era program that allowed them to live and work in the United States.

But Trump signaled opposition to dealing on the measure, stating that he preferred to wait and see how the Supreme Court dealt with the matter — even though he had previously expressed an openness to such a deal before backing away.

"I just think that we're better off waiting fo the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court rules that President Obama was wrong, which they should, because, by the way, if he was right, then I've been given tremendous power," Trump said, referring to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program he ended in 2017.

"Can you imagine me having that power, wouldn't hat be scary? Right? No, if President Obama is allowed to do what he did on DACA, then I'm allowed to whatever I want to do on things that, you know, probably a probably... a president doesn't have the right to do."

Updated at 1:56 p.m.