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‘Nothing new’ on shutdown, ‘need border security’: Trump

WASHINGTON: Both sides in the fight over President Donald Trump’s border wall with Mexico have given a little on the money. What they can’t seem to agree on is what it should be spent on.

And until Trump, who wants a wall, and Democrats, who oppose it, can come to an agreement, portions of the government will stay closed.

Christmas marked the fourth day of the partial government shutdown with no end in sight.

Most lawmakers fled the capital over the weekend to be with family. Trump remained at the White House after scrapping plans to spend Christmas at his Florida estate.

“Nothing new. Nothing new on the shutdown. Nothing new, except we need border security,” he told reporters at the White House on Monday while participating in the annual tradition of answering telephone calls from children anxious to know when Santa will get to their homes.

In a joint statement, the Democratic leaders of Congress, Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, blamed Trump for the stalemate and for “plunging the country into chaos.” They pointed to problems beyond the shutdown, including heavy losses on Wall Street and Trump’s decision to fire his defence secretary.

“The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it,” they said in a joint statement.

Trump had said he’d be “proud” to shut down the government in a fight over the wall but now blames Democrats for refusing to give him the votes needed to approve a House-passed bill that includes the $5.7 billion he wants for the wall.

The White House presented a counteroffer over the weekend to Schumer that is between Trump’s $5.7 billion price tag and the $1.3 billion Democrats have offered, said budget director Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney withheld specifics, but a Democratic aide granted anonymity to discuss the private talks said the White House offered $2.5 billion an initial $2.1 billion plus $400 million Democrats called a “slush fund” for the president’s other immigration priorities.


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