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Back again Sunday: No breakthrough in Saturday discussions on shutdown

White House says Dems don’t talk border wall funding amount

Barriers at the southern border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)
Barriers at the southern border. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images file photo)

Trump administration officials and senior congressional aides did not talk about specific border wall funding levels during a Saturday meeting that adjourned without a breakthrough, according to a White House official.

The two sides met for over two hours in Pence’s ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building across the street from the White House, where President Donald Trump was firing off tweets about the ongoing partial government shutdown and criticizing Democrats.

“There was no in-depth conversation about dollar figure, but the priorities for security,” an aide to Pence said in a brief statement. The vice president “reiterated [Trump’s] position that we need funding for the border wall.”

[Democrats skeptical weekend talks will hold beyond next Trump tweet]

Trump has increased his demand in recent days to $5.6 billion. Pence before Christmas offered over $2 billion for the wall and another $400 million for other border security tools to Senate Democrats. They rejected the offer, and Pence’s boss mocked the other border security tools as just “fun” things.

“Not much headway made today,” President Trump tweeted after he said Pence and his other designated negotiators met for over two hours with senior congressional aides about border security and how to end a partial government shutdown.

 House Democrats plan to begin passing individual spending bills next week for the cabinet departments that don’t yet have full year spending bills.

“Next week, House Democrats will begin passing individual appropriations bills to re-open all government agencies, starting with the appropriations bill that covers the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Watch: Remember When Donald Trump Wanted Mexico To Pay for the Wall?

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The Pence aide described Saturday’s discussion as “productive” and said the two sides will meet again on Sunday.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen briefed the participants on what the Pence aide described as the “the crisis at the Southern border.” Democratic negotiators requested information in writing from the administration’s proposed border security items for the Department of Homeland Security, and the administration will provide those Saturday evening or Sunday.

“It was productive and beneficial to have Secretary Nielsen finally be able to outline the crisis at the border in detail without interruption, given her prior efforts were cut off by Democrat leaders,” Lauren Fine, a spokeswoman for House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, said in a statement.

A Democratic source familiar with the meeting said Democrats in the room asked for  a “formal budget justification for the Administration’s position in order to finally determine what the Administration’s request is [because] the White House has been all over the place on numbers for months.”

“Democratic staff in the room were clear that White House must support re-opening government immediately and that it will grow increasingly hard to start formal negotiations with government closed. Administration officials refused,” the Democratic source contended. “Today was an opportunity for the Administration to come down from an untenable position that cannot pass the Congress. That did not happen.”

Trump on Friday told senior Democratic leaders the shutdown could last “months or even years” unless he gets his border wall funding.

Trump on Sunday will spend the 16th day of the partial government shutdown at Camp David while his is No. 2 leads negotiations.

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