Trump invites congressional leaders to discuss gov’t shutdown

Washington, Jan 2 (Xinhua) US President Donald Trump has invited congressional leaders to discuss the ongoing partial government shutdown and border funding at the White House, US media reported.

White House officials have invited eight top lawmakers, from House and Senate in both parties, to sit down Wednesday afternoon, the Politico cited congressional sources as saying on Tuesday.

The meeting would mark the first time the president has sat down with top congressional leaders of both parties since the start of the shutdown, which has stretched into its 11th day and affected a quarter of the federal government.

Democrats, who are set to take control of the House on Thursday, have reportedly prepared a series of spending bills to reopen the government, including a stopgap bill to fund the Homeland Security Department without the 5 billion US dollars Trump has demanded for his US-Mexico border wall.

Trump, meanwhile, signaled his willingness to break the deadlock before the new Congress is sworn in. “Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker!” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “Let’s make a deal?”

Pelosi, House Democratic leader and the incoming Speaker, said on Twitter Tuesday afternoon that the president “has given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly & quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible #TrumpShutdown.”

Trump on Monday again vowed to secure funding for the border wall, a centerpiece of his presidential campaign in 2016. “I campaigned on Border Security, which you cannot have without a strong and powerful Wall,” he tweeted.

The shutdown has affected nine cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, forcing about 420,000 federal employees, who are deemed essential, to work without pay, while 380,000 others are expected to take unpaid leave.

A federal employee union on Monday sued the Trump administration over the ongoing shutdown, claiming that it is illegal for agencies to force employees to work without pay. 

The Insides Speak