In her first press conference since a record-long partial government shutdown ended, top Democrat Nancy Pelosi renewed her party’s vow that Democrats will not allocate funding to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.
House Speaker Pelosi told reporters on Thursday, “There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation.”
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Upon entering the room full of reporters, she said, “Full house. Winning is good.”
If an agreement is not reached by the end of the three-week period, the government could partially shut down again.
On Thursday, Democrats offered further details on their border security plan, which does not include money for a wall. The Democratic measure, totalling nearly $22bn for US customs, border patrol and immigration agents, would significantly increase spending for scanners at ports of entry, humanitarian aid for apprehended migrants and new aircraft to police the US-Mexico border. It would also freeze the number of border patrol agents and block any wall construction in wildlife refuges along the border.
Earlier in the day, Trump said Republicans are “wasting their time” trying to negotiate with Democrats and he doesn’t “expect much help” from Congress to get the wall built.
He said he wasn’t going to wait for the negotiating committee to strike a deal, and indicated he is still weighing whether he to declare a national emergency to bypass Congress to build the wall.
Trump accused Pelosi of “playing games”, adding that if Democrats don’t “give us a wall, it doesn’t work”.
The president also took to Twitter, to announce that more US troops are being sent to the country’s southern border.
He claimed, without evidence, that troops would help prevent an “attempted invasion”, referring to US-bound groups of undocumented immigrants and refugees fleeing violence and economic catastrophe.
“More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country,” Trump wrote in the tweet. He did not elaborate.
Shutdown over immigration
Trump had allowed the government to shut down on December 22, after Democrats refused to provide more than $5bn in funding for his proposed border wall.
Throughout the shutdown, Trump vowed to keep the government partially closed for “months or even years”.
The shutdown affected more than 800,000 federal workers in nine different departments, as well as several federal agencies.
This included the departments of agriculture, commerce, justice, homeland security, housing and urban development, interior, state, transportation and treasury.
Federal workers deemed “essential” were required to work without pay. Others were furloughed or placed on temporary leave.
With pressure mounting, Trump backtracked on his threat to keep the government shutdown until Democrats agreed to fund his border wall.
On Friday, Trump and Democrats reached a deal that did not include funding for the border wall.
Rather, Democrats approved a bill providing funds for more border patrol agents, drones, sensors and other equipment and measures.
Since coming to office, Trump has sought to tighten restrictions around immigration and asylum seeking in the US, prompting a widespread backlash from rights groups and critics alike.