President Donald Trump is hopeful that incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be more willing to make concessions in shutdown negotiations after she officially becomes House speaker at noon Thursday.
Pelosi will take the helm of a significant Democratic majority in the House of Representatives, ushering in a new era of the Trump presidency. Trump and Democratic lawmakers remain engaged in a high-stakes fight over border wall funding, which has resulted in a partial government shutdown.
The president is demanding $5 billion in border wall funding, but Democratic lawmakers are saying that they will provide no more than $1.6 billion, with the stipulation that none of it can be used to construct a concrete wall.
Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leaders met Wednesday with Trump at the White House for another round of negotiations, but to no avail. The ostensible reason for the gathering was a briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, though a White House official familiar with the meeting told The Daily Caller that the Democratic lawmakers refused to even listen to the briefing.
Both sides emerged from the meeting without any consensus, with Democrats declaring that they will refuse to appropriate a single extra dollar to border wall funding. The end result of the meeting was simply an agreement to reconvene on Friday when Pelosi is officially House speaker. (Related: Trump Refuses To Budge in Shutdown Demand: ‘As Long As It Takes’)
White House officials believe that Pelosi is in a precarious situation because dozens of her new majority are vehemently opposed to Trump’s proposed wall and she needs their votes to secure speakership. These officials say that after Pelosi formally secures her speakership, she can compromise on more divisive issues.
Pelosi, however, is attempting to dispel this notion by publicly stating multiple times that Democrats will not compromise on wall funding. When asked by NBC on Thursday morning if Democrats would compromise on giving more money for the wall, Pelosi flatly replied, “No.” Schumer has similarly said that no compromise will occur.
Trump, ahead of the meeting, drew his own line in the sand, telling reporters at his cabinet meeting that he would not accept anything lower than $5.6 billion in funding and that he was willing to let the shutdown continue for “as long as it takes.”
The president blamed much of the Democratic intransigence on the 2020 presidential campaign, saying later on Twitter:
The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election. The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of “Trump,” so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security – and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 3, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell struck the least optimistic note of all parties involved, telling reporters after the Thursday meeting that the shutdown could last for “weeks.”