President Trump invited congressional leaders from each chamber to a White House briefing on border security Wednesday as the partial government shutdown wore on over funding for a border wall, with Trump tweeting: "Let's make a deal?" The briefing will happen the day before the Democrats take control of the House, but the exact agenda isn't immediately clear, according to a person with knowledge of the briefing who was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity. The invite comes after House Democrats released their plan to re-open the government without approving money for a border wall. The latest:
- They unveiled two bills: one bill to temporarily fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels—with $1.3 billion for border security, far less than the $5 billion Trump has said he wants for the wall—through Feb. 8 as talks continue. The second would fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development, and others closed by the partial shutdown. It would provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to Sept. 30.
- Democrats under Pelosi were all but certain to swiftly approve the package in two separate votes Thursday. They will take place after the election of a new House speaker, a contest Pelosi is expected to win as leader of the new House majority.
- Whether the Republican-led Senate, under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, would consider the Democratic bills—or if Trump would sign either into law—is unclear. McConnell spokesman Donald Stewart said Senate Republicans would not take action without Trump's backing.
- Even if only symbolic, the passage of the bills in the House would put fresh pressure on the president. At the same time, administration officials said Trump was in no rush for a resolution to the impasse.
- Trump spent the weekend saying that Democrats should return to Washington to negotiate, firing off Twitter taunts. On Tuesday morning, after tweeting a New Year's message to "EVERYONE INCLUDING THE HATERS AND THE FAKE NEWS MEDIA," Trump tweeted, "The Democrats, much as I suspected, have allocated no money for a new Wall. So imaginative! The problem is, without a Wall there can be no real Border Security."
- But he seemed to shift tactics later in the day, appealing to Pelosi, who is expected to take over as speaker when the new Congress convenes. "Border Security and the Wall 'thing' and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let's make a deal?" he tweeted.
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