Trump spars with Democrats over border wall

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-46515119

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Media captionPresident Trump and Democratic leaders clash over border wall funding in a feisty Oval Office meeting.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the government over funding a US-Mexican border wall in budget talks with top Democrats.

In a heated exchange with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Mr Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over border security.

Lawmakers face a partial shutdown if a spending bill deal is not reached by 21 December.

Democrats argue that the $5bn (£4bn) Mr Trump seeks is too high.

Mr Trump opened the Oval Office meeting calling it a “great honour” to have Mr Schumer and Mrs Pelosi present, in their first meeting since Democrats took control of the House of Representatives in the November mid-term elections.

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Mr Trump and the Democratic leadership often interrupted each other during the meeting

But the meeting soon turned contentious as Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer argued that legislation to keep the government open could pass both houses of Congress before funding for some agencies was set to expire on 21 December.

The president contended that it could only pass if it met his demands for more funding for his proposed border wall along the US southern border.

“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government,” Mr Trump said.

“And I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down.”

The clock is ticking…

Analysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC Washington

Donald Trump opened his press event with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer with a feel-good embrace of bipartisanship.

It didn’t last long.

The two Democrats and the president sparred over funding for the Mr Trump’s proposed border wall. It seemed for a moment as though they might agree on funding for “border security” – but that linguistic pirouette disappeared beneath an onslaught of acrimony.

The president wants his wall funding. He campaigned on it. He promised it. And even though Mexico isn’t going to pay for it, he wants it now.

Democrats, on the other hand, are loath to give him this victory. What’s more, they’re intent on having the blame for any government shutdown directed solely at the president.

In the end Mr Trump gave the Democrats what they wanted. He said he would shut down the government if “we don’t get what we want”. He would be “proud” to do it.

Democrats will try to make the president regret those words. Mr Trump, on the other hand, thinks the public – or at least his base – is with him in this fight.

If neither side blinks, we’ll know who is right in a few weeks.

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In an official readout following the meeting, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Democrats have “made clear they would rather keep the border open than the government open”.

After the meeting, Democrat Chuck Schumer condemned Mr Trump’s “temper tantrum” in the White House Oval Office.

Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to become Speaker of the House when Democrats take over the chamber next month, mocked Mr Trump’s “Christmas present” to the American people as she spoke outside the White House.

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Media captionGovernment workers on what happens during a shutdown

What happens if no deal is reached?

If lawmakers cannot agree on a federal budget, roughly a quarter of the federal government will begin to close down on 21 December.

According to the Washington Post, nearly 600,000 government employees will be forced to stay home as several government services become unavailable.

Congressional Republicans have demanded $5bn to build a southern border wall – a key campaign promise of Mr Trump.

On Tuesday, two members of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus wrote in a Fox News op-ed that they would not vote in favour of the spending bill unless it contains their requested funds.

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