WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump took to the White House briefing room Thursday to tell reporters that he is winning a fight over funding for his promised border wall that has kept parts of the government shut down for nearly two weeks.
"I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control, and for frankly, the wall or the barrier," Trump said in his first remarks ever in the briefing room. "I have never had anything like it in terms of calls coming in, in terms of people writing in, and tweeting and doing whatever they have to do."
"I have never had this much support, and we’ve done some things that as you know, have been very popular," he added.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released last week suggested that 47 percent of Americans blamed the president for the shutdown while 33 percent blamed Democrats in Congress. Before spending authority for several executive branch agencies expired Dec. 21, Trump had said he would be "proud" to take responsibility for a shutdown if it occurred because he didn't get the wall money he had demanded.
He later posted another Instagram meme inspired by the HBO show Game of Thrones.
Trump's remarks Thursday were delivered less than 24 hours before he was set to meet with Democratic and Republican leaders from the House and Senate to discuss the ongoing shutdown and his request for $5.6 billion in funding for the wall. And they came just hours after Democrats formally took control of the House — the result of House Republicans' defeat in November's midterm elections.
Trump congratulated new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Hopefully we have a lot of things we can get done together, and I think it’s actually going to work out," he said. "I think it will be a little bit different than a lot of people are thinking. So I congratulate Nancy. Tremendous, tremendous achievement."
Later Thursday, Pelosi sent a formal invitation to the president to deliver the State of the Union address to Congress on January 29. But she was less inviting on the prospects of his top priority.
"This is not a wall between Mexico and the United States that the president is creating here. It’s a wall between reality and his constituents," Pelosi told reporters outside the House chamber Thursday night.
The House was expected to pass separate bills later Thursday to re-open the shuttered parts of the federal government, but the Senate was not expected to act on them.