US President Donald Trump threatened to shut down the US government if he does not secure funding from Congress for a wall along the Mexican border, during a dramatic, public White House meeting with Democratic leaders on Tuesday.
Trump said that if he got 5 billion dollars in funding for a US-Mexico border wall, he could do a “tremendous chunk of wall,” but added that he would be “proud to shut down the government for border security.”
“I’d like not to see a government closing, a shutdown. We will see what happens over the next short period of time,” Trump said.
“Border security is extremely important,” he added. Trump also pointed to the walls Israel has built as a model to copy.
The comments by the president came during a brief window that was open to the media during a meeting with Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi, the party’s leader in the House of Representatives, at the White House.
Trump and the Democratic leaders are struggling to pass a bill to prevent a partial government shutdown after the US Congress passed a short-term spending bill that provided funding through December 21.
Both Schumer and Pelosi insisted that they oppose more funding for the wall but want to keep the federal authorities open for business, while sparring with Trump on camera.
“You just say, ‘My way, or we’ll shut down the government,'” Schumer told the president.
In a post-meeting press conference Schumer accused Trump of having a “temper tantrum.”
“If he sticks to his position for 5 billion dollar wall, he will get no wall and he will get a shutdown,” Schumer added.
The meeting comes as Democrats prepare to take control of the House in January after capturing dozens of seats in the midterm election.
Pelosi urged Trump to put the border wall “on a negotiation.”
“The fact is, you do not have the votes in the House,” she told the president bluntly.
Trump said he and the Democrats were finding themselves on “opposite sides” and added: “We may not have an agreement today, we probably won’t.”
Despite Trump’s threats of a government shutdown, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he opposed it.
“I hope that’s not where we end up,” the senator told reporters, calling the meeting “spirited.”