President Donald Trump met with top lawmakers at the White House for a security briefing on Jan. 2, where security officials were to explain their need for further border barriers.
But the Democrat attendees didn’t want to listen and never actually got through the full briefing by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), House GOP leader, during a press gaggle after the briefing.
Once the secretary started, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) interrupted her, McCarthy said.
“They really didn’t want to hear it, and they challenged some the points the secretary made.”
Schumer’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Before the briefing, Trump told reporters that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and border patrol officials would make a plea for a border wall at the meeting, a part of his efforts to convince Democrats to give him funding for the long-promised project.
Trump has been saying since at least July he’d shut down the government if Congress wouldn’t deliver the wall funding.
Lawmakers managed to pass funding bills for about three-quarters of the government, but when it came to the last one, which included the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) along with border security, Democrats blocked the wall funding in the Senate, where Republicans lacked a sufficient majority.
GOP Senators eventually kicked the can down the road, passing a Democrat-backed bill to fund the DHS until Feb. 8 without the wall money.
But this option failed in the House, where Republicans passed a bill with some $5 billion for the wall instead, which in turn was refused by Senate Democrats.
As a result, on Dec. 22, about one-quarter of the government ran out of money.
Trump said he’s willing to continue the shutdown until the wall money materializes, calling it “too important a subject to walk from.”
Democrats, who gain control of the House on Jan. 3, plan to pass a bill that would fund everything except for the DHS and another bill that would fund the DHS through Feb. 8 without wall construction funds.
The option was called “a non-starter” by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in a statement late on Jan. 1.
McCarthy said Trump asked the lawmakers to return for further talks on Jan. 4, after the new Congress leadership is voted in. Then, the lawmakers may be “more willing to come to the agreement,” he said.
Democrat leaders have called the wall project ineffective and expensive. But in the past, they supported multiple bills that proposed border barriers similar to what Trump has described as acceptable.
The steady influx of people trying to cross the southern border illegally recently intensified. Border Patrol apprehensions were up more than 30 percent in October and November combined, compared to the previous two months combined.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the increase in southern border apprehensions in October and November combined compared to August and September combined. The increase was over 30 percent. The Epoch Times regrets the mistake.