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Trump: 'Not much headway' made in Saturday shutdown talks

Administration aides had earlier called the session "productive," saying the group had agreed to meet again Sunday afternoon.
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Saturday afternoon that White House and congressional negotiators had made minimal progress at their weekend meeting, as the partial government shutdown entered its third week.

"V.P. Mike Pence and team just left the White House. Briefed me on their meeting with the Schumer/Pelosi representatives. Not much headway made today," the president tweeted.

Administration aides had earlier called the session "productive," saying the group had agreed to meet again Sunday afternoon.

The largely staff-level discussion, which did not include Trump or key congressional leaders, lasted more than two hours in the vice president’s ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, following a briefing by Homeland Security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the White House Situation Room.

Notably, aides said there was “no in-depth conversation about dollar figure, but the priorities for security," with Democrats requesting further details in writing on the needs of Department of Homeland Security. The president wants $5.6 billion for the border wall or barrier security.

Pence tweeted a photo of the session after it ended.

The discussion took place following news this week that at least two Republican senators facing tough re-election races in 2020 — Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine — have publicly broken with the president, calling for the government to re-open despite the lack of an agreement to fund the president's request for a border wall.

Saturday's session was led by administration officials including Pence, Nielsen and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, with acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and legislative affairs director Shahira Knight in attendance, following a sitdown in the White House Situation Room for what aides described as a “pre-briefing.”

Staff for top congressional leaders also attended the meeting including aides to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Ahead of the meeting, Trump tweeted Saturday morning that Democrats could solve the shutdown in a “very short period of time.”

"I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?" he tweeted shortly before the day's scheduled discussion began next door.

Trump threatened Friday to keep the government shutdown “months or even years” if Congress does not pass funding for his border wall. He also warned that he’s considering declaring a national emergency in order to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

After Democrats took control of the House Thursday, they passed two spending bills aimed at ending the shutdown that began Dec. 22. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will not bring the measures up in the Senate because Trump has said he would veto them.