Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and Vice President Mike Pence, who met with Congressional staff, at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, January 5, 2019 (Alex Brandon/AP)


There is no movement to end the Trump shutdown of the Federal Government, now in its 16th day, as a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Congressional aides from both parties made little progress.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is continuing to campaign via Twitter for $5.7 billion as a payment on his $25 billion Wall with Mexico, refusing to ease the demand to allow the reopening of the Government and return of about 800,000 employees to paid work.

He concluded the evening with another invocation of a Game-of-Thrones style poster featuring his stern face above a “Wall” of steel slats:

(Trump continues to ignore, or does not know, that the Wall in Game of Thrones was destroyed in the latest series of the TV program.)

Far from moving to compromise, Pence took a harder line in Saturday’s meeting with both Republicans and Democrats.

Last week the Vice President was discussing with Democrat legislators a package of an additional $2.5 billion for border security, with unspecified provision for The Wall. But Trump and senior advisor Steven Miller reportedly shot down that proposal, and yesterday Pence was insisting on the $5.7 billion for The Wall, according to “two Democratic officials briefed on the negotiations“.

Before the shutdown at midnight on December 21, Senate Democrats and Republicans agreed a continuing resolution to fund the Government with an additional $1.3 billion for border security measures. Trump rejected the resolution.

Hours after taking control of the House on Thursday, Democrats ensured passage of the resolution. But despite Republican agreement in the Senate last month, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is refusing a vote in the chamber unless Trump is willing to sign the bill.

On Friday Trump pledged a shutdown of “months or even years” and said he might declare a national emergency to get Wall funding, even without Congressional support.

TrumpWatch, Day 715: Trump Threatens “National Emergency” Over Trump Shutdown of “Months or Even Years”

Trump tweeted on Saturday afternoon:

He said there will be meetings at the Presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland on Sunday morning, before Pence and Congressional aides renew discussions in the afternoon.

Saturday’s talks also included Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Trump’s son-in-law and White House advisor Jared Kushner, and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Kushner reportedly raised the possibility of a deal in which the $5.7 billion for The Wall would be accompanied by new protections for “Dreamers”, about 800,000 young people who came to the US as children with their undocumented immmigrant parents.

Last March Trump initially accepted but then rejected a Democrat offer for full funding of the Wall in return for a path to citizenship for the Dreamers. Hardline conservatives, including radio and TV hosts, are opposed to any arrangement, and Miller reportedly encouraged the rejection.

Democrat staff asked the White House to lay out in formal detail its funding request for the border, including what the money will be used for and what cuts will be made in the Homeland Security budget to ensure the package can be financed. Trump’s aides reportedly said they will provide those figures before the Sunday session.

Trump has not spent 94% of the additional border security money which has already been allocated by Congress.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Saturday that the House will begin passing separate bills to reopen the Government in the coming week, starting with a bill covering the Treasury Department “so that the American people can receive their tax refunds on schedule”.

The shutdown is threatening payment of $140 billion in refunds, and provision of $4.9 billion in February for food stamps.

But Trump appears to be willing to let the damage proceed. White House officials said he spent Friday night boasting to friends about his rambling Rose Garden statement that threatened the long-term shutdown and national emergency.

Trump said he had captured attention and made points appreciated by his base.