Trump bickers with Democratic leaders amid shutdown threat over border wall

Donald Trump US House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer argue as US Vice President Mike Pence looks on. White House 11 December 2018

But the meeting soon turned contentious as Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer argued that the Republican-controlled Congress could pass legislation before funding for some agencies was set to expire on 21 December.

"We came in here in good faith and we are entering into this kind of a discussion in the public view", said Pelosi, who referred to the possible government shutdown a "Trump shutdown", a term Trump instantly asked her to clarify.

Despite Republican control of the House and Senate, Trump has little leverage to force Congress into appropriating money for the border wall.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington. "I will take the mantle. I will shut down the government", he declared. It would also give her a top role in confronting President Donald Trump during the upcoming 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns and put a woman at the helm of next year's diverse crop of House Democrats.

The president, however, was less enthused by this designation (#TrumpShutdown is now trending on Twitter), retorting, "A what?" Mr Trump, on the other hand, thinks the public - or at least his base - is with him in this fight.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, said they have the votes in the House to approve Trump's request for $5 billion for the southern border wall in a must-pass spending bill - but weren't sure they wanted to bring it up with no assurance that the plan could get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate.

"Chuck and Nancy must give us the votes to get additional Border Security!" It moves her to the cusp of steering next year's diverse crop of House Democrats, with its large number of female, minority and younger members.

In a series of tweets earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump said immigration and border patrol agents and thousands of active-duty service members he sent to the border had done a "fantastic" job, but a "great wall" would be "easier and less expensive".

Trump also tweeted that the US military would build the wall if Democrats refuse to give him the money needed. "The wall will get built", he insisted. What's more, they're intent on having the blame for any government shutdown directed exclusively at the president.

Pelosi and Schumer have urged Trump to support a measure that includes a half-dozen government funding bills largely agreed upon by lawmakers, along with a separate measure that funds the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through September 30.

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In an official readout following the meeting, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the Democrats have "made clear they would rather keep the border open than the government open". "It's his choice to accept one of those options or shut the government down".

Pelosi was quoted by USA media as telling fellow Democrats in Congress that Trump's wall push was "like a manhood thing for him, as if manhood could ever be associated with him".

"We're doing this in a very friendly manner", Trump said.

In a deal struck with a group of House Democrats who had vowed to vote against the longtime Democratic leader in next month's House speaker election, the California lawmaker agreed to term limits that would see her hold the post through 2022 at the latest.

"We believe you shouldn't shut it down", Schumer said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters he hasn't given up hope that a shutdown can be averted.

At that time, she would need a majority of the full House, which traditionally amounts to 218 votes.

"The Trump shutdown is something that can be avoided", Pelosi said.

"One by one, House Democrats in OH and across the country have turned their back on their constituents and fallen in line to vote for their anointed leader", said RNC spokeswoman Mandi Merritt.