In his best-seller “The Art of the Deal” President Donald Trump repeatedly preached a critical tactic when negotiating big deals: “Know when to walk away from the table.”
Wednesday he put that lesson into practice — and it left Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer speechless.
Trump walked out of his meeting with congressional leaders — “I said bye-bye,” he tweeted soon after — when Democrats refused to end the partial government shutdown without building a wall. Liberal leaders refused to even consider a compromise. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers now face lost paychecks on Friday.
The president is taking the shutdown battle to the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday, seeking to bolster his case for the border wall after negotiations with Democrats blew up over security demands.
During his stop in McAllen, Texas, Trump will visit a border patrol station for a roundtable on immigration and border security and will get a security briefing on the border. But Trump has expressed his own doubts that his appearance and remarks will change any minds on the liberal side of the aisle, as he seeks $5.7 billion for the wall that has been his signature promise since his presidential campaign.
McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border for illegal border crossings.
The unraveling talks prompted further speculation about whether Trump would declare a national emergency and try to authorize the wall on his own if Congress won’t approve the money he’s seeking.
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“I think we might work a deal, and if we don’t I might go that route,” he said.
The White House meeting in the Situation Room ended after just 14 minutes. Democrats said they asked Trump to re-open the government. He asked if they would give him money for the wall if he did reopen the government. Republicans said Trump posed a direct question to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: If he opened the government, would she fund the wall?
She said flatly, “No.”
He said, “Bye-bye” and immediately walked out.
Just left a meeting with Chuck and Nancy, a total waste of time. I asked what is going to happen in 30 days if I quickly open things up, are you going to approve Border Security which includes a Wall or Steel Barrier? Nancy said, NO. I said bye-bye, nothing else works!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 9, 2019
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump slammed his hand on the table. However, Republicans said Trump, who handed out candy at the start of the meeting, did not raise his voice and there was no table pounding.
One result was certain: The shutdown plunged into new territory with no endgame in sight. The Democrats see the idea of the long, impenetrable wall as ineffective and even immoral. Trump sees it as an absolute necessity to stop a crisis of illegal immigration, drug-smuggling and human trafficking at the border.
Trump headed to Capitol Hill earlier Wednesday, seeking to soothe establishment Republican lawmakers that have expressed doubts. He left a Republican lunch boasting of “a very, very unified party,” but GOP senators have been publicly uneasy as the standoff ripples across the lives of Americans and interrupts the economy.
GOP unity was tested further when the House passed a bipartisan spending bill, 240-188, to reopen one shuttered department, Treasury, to ensure that tax refunds and other financial services continue. Eight Republicans joined Democrats in voting, defying the plea to stick with the White House.
There was growing concern about the toll the shutdown is taking on everyday Americans, including disruptions in payments to farmers and trouble for home buyers who are seeking government-backed mortgage loans — “serious stuff,” according to Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Senate Republican.
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Tuesday night, speaking to the nation from the Oval Office for the first time, Trump argued that the wall was needed to resolve a security and humanitarian crisis. He blamed illegal immigration for what he said was a scourge of drugs and violence in the U.S. and asked: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”
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The Associated Press contributed to this article