US President Donald Trump stormed out of negotiations Wednesday on funding a US-Mexico border wall when Democratic opponents said they would not agree to the project.
Image shows President Donald Trump inspecting border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)
“A total waste of time,” Trump tweeted about his White House meeting with top Democratic congressional leaders. “I said bye-bye, nothing else works!”
Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, told journalists: “The president just got up and walked out,” AP reported.
The two sides agreed that the meeting ended abruptly soon after starting, but not on who was to blame.
According to supporters of Trump at the meeting, the president began by asking Democratic leaders whether they would agree to fund his wall project in exchange for him ending a painful shutdown of swaths of government, which he has instigated in retaliation for the standoff.
The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, “raised her hand and said no, not at all,” said Kevin McCarthy, the senior Republican in the House.
“We heard once again that Democratic leaders are unwilling to even negotiate,” Vice President Mike Pence said.
But Schumer said Trump was the one who was intransigent.
The president “sort of slammed the table” and left, Schumer said. “Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way.”
Trump wants $5.7 billion to fund a wall he says is needed to keep out dangerous illegal immigrants, drug dealers and people smugglers from Mexico.
Democrats say the wall would have little impact on real border problems and that Trump’s tough approach has instead created a humanitarian crisis among vulnerable, unthreatening migrants.
Trump’s main lever to exert pressure on Congress has been to refuse signing spending bills that cover large areas of government. As a result, some 800,000 federal employees and many more contractors have now been without pay for almost three weeks.