A meeting between United States President Donald Trump and leaders from the Democratic Party to discuss the end of the partial government shutdown proved unfruitful on Friday. Shortly after the meeting, President Trump warned the shut down could last for months or even a year if the more than $5 billion needed to begin building a wall along the Mexican border is not granted.
Trump also threatened to use his powers as president to declare a natural emergency. This step, he says, would give him the right to build the wall without the approval of Congress.
President Trump decided not to support a bill that would provide funding for the government until a solution is found for the wall dispute. There are presently 800,000 government workers not earning a paycheck. It is also estimated that a quarter of the government is shut down at this time.
Chuck Schumer is the Democratic leader in the Senate. Schumer says Democrats asked the president directly during the meeting to end the shutdown. Schumer says the president rejected the request. The meeting was the first to take place since the Democratic Party took control of the House on Thursday.
One source says the meeting began with a speech from the president. He explained the need for the wall and reiterated his determination to assure the wall is built. The president also took the time to address reports the House may try to initiate an impeachment process against him. Trump characterized his presidency as a success and says there is no reason to impeach him.
Trump told reporters House Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured him he is not a target for impeachment.
Trump is adamant in his stance the wall is needed to stop a constant flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States. He explains it is his right to declare the situation a national emergency and says he may decide to do so. He also says once the emergency is declared the wall can be built quickly.
Trump says he would rather gain support for the wall through a process of negotiations but explains he would do what is necessary to achieve his objective.
Democratic Senator Jack Reed condemned the comments by the President. Senator Reed expressed dismay at the president’s suggestion he would create a false disaster scenario to side-step Congressional approval.
The total cost of the wall required by Trump is estimated at $23 billion.