Trump Invites Congressional Leaders to Border Security Briefing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) —
trump border
Flags fly in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday morning, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday invited congressional leaders to a bipartisan briefing on border security at the White House as a partial U.S. government shutdown over Trump’s $5 billion demand for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is in its second week.

The president’s briefing invitation was sent to the top two party leaders in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, according to a congressional source familiar with the plan.

It was unclear whether the leaders would attend the briefing or when it would be held, the source said. The White House did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the briefing’s specifics.

The House and Senate will reconvene briefly on Wednesday to mark the last day of the Republican-controlled 2017-2018 Congress, with no signs of a workable plan to end the shutdown of about a quarter of the federal government, affecting roughly 800,000 workers.

On Thursday, when Democrats take control of the House, they plan to approve a two-part spending package meant to end the shutdown. But its prospects are grim in the Republican-led Senate, which previously approved similar measures on the floor or in committee but has since fallen in line with President Trump’s wall funding demands.

The legislation sets the stage for the first major battle of the new Congress between House Democrats led by Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Trump triggered the shutdown, which started on Dec. 22, by insisting that $5 billion for funding a U.S.-Mexico border wall be part of any spending measure.

Trump calls the wall crucial to curbing illegal immigration, echoing his 2016 presidential campaign pledge.

The Democrats’ two-part package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8 and provide $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items including technology and cameras.

The second part of the package would fund federal agencies that are now unfunded, such as the Justice, Commerce and Transportation departments, through Sept 30.

The House Democrats’ measure does not contain the $5 billion Trump wants. McConnell has said Senate Republicans will not approve a spending measure not supported by President Trump.

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