Trump Visits Rio Grande on Texas Border Tour: Shutdown Update


(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump headed to Texas to rally support for building a border wall a day after walking out of talks with congressional leaders on ending a partial government shutdown. The shutdown entered its 20th day on Thursday as its impact spreads. About 800,000 federal workers will miss their paychecks on Friday.

Trump Visits Rio Grande on Texas Border Tour (4:39 p.m.)

Trump addressed reporters and gave Fox News an interview on the bank of the Rio Grande river after a tour of a Border Patrol station and a briefing in McAllen, Texas. The Border Patrol brought 500 pounds of marijuana seized that were seized in two separate incidents outside an official port of entry, an agent told Trump.

"What they need more than anything is the barrier, the wall," Trump said of the Border Patrol. His political opponents, Trump said, are "not winning this argument."

Asked about a potential deal in Congress to end the shutdown that Vice President Mike Pence effectively killed earlier in the day, Trump said he'd entertain a "much broader" immigration agreement in the future. "But before we do that we have to create a barrier," he said.

A bipartisan group of senators were discussing a deal that would address the status of young immigrants brought to the country illegally as children and provide money for the wall, but Pence told the group that now isn't the time to discuss the plight of the so-called Dreamers.

Conservative Democrat Backs Party Stance on Wall (3:30 p.m.)

‪West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, said he and fellow party members remain resolute in their view that the government be opened before wall funding is discussed.

"There's no hesitation," he said. "Open the government and they will sit down in earnest."

Manchin said if they still can't agree on border security after the government is reopened, Trump would have "more grounds" to declare an emergency. He said the president should have accepted the bipartisan Senate deal last year for $25 billion toward a wall and citizenship for Dreamers.

Key GOP Senator Says 'I Think We're Stuck' (2:34 p.m.)

A key Republican senator who has been trying to forge a compromise to end the partial shutdown said he doesn't see a way to find a middle ground.

"I think we're stuck," said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "I just don't see a pathway forward."

"I don't know what else to do," Graham added. "I have never been more depressed about moving forward."

He and other moderate Republicans had pitched an outline of a proposal that would combine border wall funds with other measures aimed at attracting Democratic votes, such as protecting young undocumented immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

The idea hit a snag, GOP Senator Susan Collins said after a meeting with Vice President Mike Pence.

"It's run into some difficulties," said Collins of Maine. "It's very difficult when we're dealing with people who do not want to budge at all."

And Republican Representative Jim Jordan said he and other House conservatives won't accept "progressive priorities" like DACA in return for wall funding.

Pence Says Now Isn't Time to Address Dreamers (1:54 p.m.)

Vice President Mike Pence said the shutdown dispute isn't the time to negotiate a plan to address thousands of people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as dreamers.

He told reporters that Trump believes it's better to wait and see how the Supreme Court acts on an Obama-era program that allowed them to remain in the U.S. An appeal is pending before the court.

"We feel confident that the Supreme Court will find DACA to be unconstitutional," Pence said, referring to the young-immigrants protections.

His comments dim the chances of an effort by moderate Senate Republicans to pair border-wall funds with other immigration provisions, such as protection for dreamers.

Democrat Faults McConnell as 'Missing in Action' (1:28 p.m.)

Senate Democrats criticized Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for failing to take a more active role in ending the shutdown, saying he's abdicating his responsibility as a leader in an independent branch of government.

"The pressure should be on Mitch McConnell, the man missing in action," Senator Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, said at a news conference.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has said he won't bring to the floor any legislation reopening the government until Trump and Democrats sign off. He was absent from a Wednesday news conference with GOP leaders who met with Trump and Democrats to discuss the shutdown, and hasn't publicly presented any plan of his own for ending the stalemate over funding a border wall.

"McConnell said he can't do anything that the president won't sign," said Senator Mark Warner of Virginia. "I would point out that the Constitution of the United States of America says that Congress is an independent branch."

Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen said, "Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are accomplices" to Trump.

GOP Moderates Seek to Add Immigration to Talks (12:26)

A small group of moderate Senate Republicans is pressing for a debate about immigration issues in addition to border security, but they aren't getting any takers so far among leaders of either party.

GOP senators, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Susan Collins of Maine and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Thursday morning in his office to talk about expanding the talks. The senators said little as they left, with Tillis saying only that McConnell listened.

One possibility would be to give Trump some border wall funds in return for legal protection for people brought to the U.S. illegally as children, known as Dreamers.

But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that while she wants to discuss overhauling the immigration system, it shouldn't take place during a government shutdown.

"We haven't had that discussion, what we're talking about now is just the president's insistence on a wall," Pelosi said.

Pelosi also said she thinks Wednesday's White House meeting between Trump and congressional leaders "was a setup so he could walk out."

Impasse Damaging FBI Probes, Agents' Group Says (11:29 a.m.)

The partial government shutdown is now damaging the FBI's capacity to conduct investigations and other national security operations, the president of an association representing about 13,000 FBI special agents told reporters.

The FBI Agents Association is calling on Congress and Trump to immediately come to an agreement to fully fund the FBI and pay special agents during the shutdown, said its president, Tom O'Connor.

"FBI funding is a matter of national security," O'Connor said. "The failure to fund the FBI is harmful to special agents and our operations. This is not about politics for special agents. For special agents, financial security is national security."

McConnell Blocks Effort to Pass Funding Bills (11:04 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked an effort by two Maryland Democrats to pass legislation that would open federal agencies affected by the shutdown.

McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said he won't bring to the floor any legislation reopening the government until Trump signs off.

"The last thing we need to do right now is to trade pointless, absolutely pointless, show votes back and forth across the aisle," he said.

The action by the top Republican leader came just a day before about 800,000 federal workers will miss their first paycheck in the partial shutdown that has stretched into its third week.

Democratic Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, both of Maryland, both argued the shutdown must end because it is shuttering key government services and harming federal workers who are facing shortfalls due to lost paychecks, including about 140,000 in the Washington region. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, joined them on the floor during the unsuccessful effort to bring up the measures that were approved by the House on Jan. 3.

Trump Asserts 'Absolute Right' to Declare Emergency (9:51 a.m.)

Trump said White House lawyers have advised him he has the "absolute right" to declare a national emergency to build his proposed wall on the border with Mexico, and that he'll probably do it if he can't strike a deal with Congress.

"If we don't make a deal, it would be very surprising to me that I would not declare a national emergency and just fund it through the various mechanisms," Trump told reporters at the White House as he departed for Texas. "The lawyers tell me it is 100 percent."

Some of Trump's conservative allies regard an emergency declaration as his only path to begin building the wall as long as Democrats control the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted Trump reopen the government before negotiating extra money for border security. She and many other Democrats oppose building more wall on the border.

Trump said during his campaign that Mexico would pay for construction of the wall, but he has since retreated from that promise after the country's leaders refused. He said Thursday that he never meant that Mexico would "write a check," and that the country would pay for the wall through a new trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. There's no provision in the deal for that to happen.

Trump Says He Won't Go to Davos If Impasse Lasts (9:39 a.m.)

Trump said he will skip the annual gathering of global financial elite in the Swiss ski resort town of Davos later this month if the partial government shutdown isn't resolved by then.

"If the shutdown continues," Trump told reporters at the White House, "I won't go."

Here's What Happened Wednesday:

Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and other congressional leaders after Pelosi said she wouldn't accept a wall at the border. "Bye bye," he said.The Democratic-controlled House voted 240-188 to reopen the Department of Treasury, Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial services agencies, as part of the party's effort to pressure the White House to end the shutdown. The GOP-controlled Senate doesn't plan to consider the measure as long as Trump opposes it.Trump told reporters that Republicans are "very, very unified" behind continuing the shutdown, after he met privately with GOP senators.Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said a group of senators were meeting to see if they could come up with "constructive ideas" to end the spending impasse.

(An earlier version incorrectly reported the day McConnell moved to block a bill.)

--With assistance from Shannon Pettypiece, Laura Litvan, Anna Edgerton, Erik Wasson, Daniel Flatley, Steven T. Dennis, Billy House, Jack Fitzpatrick, Sahil Kapur, Jennifer Epstein and Justin Sink.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Shannon Pettypiece in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at, Justin Blum, Joe Sobczyk

For more articles like this, please visit us at

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.


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