McConnell: Trump will designate a team to find shutdown exit

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPatient advocates launch drug pricing ad campaign Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs War of words at the White House MORE (R-Ky.) on Friday said President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE will “designate his top people” to negotiate with congressional leaders this weekend to find a way to end the government shutdown.

“The news is that the president agreed to designate his top people to sit down with all the leaders’ staffs this weekend to see if we could come up with an agreement to recommend back to us — both to him and to the various leaders,” McConnell told reporters after returning from a White House meeting with Trump and congressional leaders from both parties.

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McConnell called the development encouraging because it will form “a working group” made up of people who best know how to find a solution to the impasse.

But he acknowledged that Democrats need to agree to meet.

“That’s at least encouraging in the sense that if other Democratic leaders’ staffs agree to meet, we’ll have at least a working group of people who know most about this subject to see if they can reach an agreement and then punt it back to us for final sign-off,” McConnell added.

McConnell said it was “a spirited discussion.”

Democratic leaders emerging from the White House said government agencies should be reopened while negotiations continue. 

“We made a plea to the president once again: Don’t hold millions of Americans, hundreds of thousands of workers hostage. Open up the government and let’s continue the discussions,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerPelosi fires back after Trump 'meltdown': 'We have to pray for his health' 5 big wins in US-China trade pact Trump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe MORE (N.Y.) told reporters.

“It’s very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government,” he added.

Schumer said Trump appeared unmoved by the request and threatened “he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

The Democratic leader described the rest of the meeting as “somewhat contentious.”