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Trump: ‘Not much headway’ in talks as shutdown drags on

WASHINGTON (AP) – White House officials and congressional aides emerged from talks to reopen the government without a breakthrough Saturday, though they planned to return to the table the following day.

President Donald Trump tweeted: “Not much headway made today.” The President later tweeted that he planned to go to his retreat in Camp David, Maryland, yesterday morning to discuss border security and other topics with senior staff.

Democrats agreed there had been little movement Saturday, saying the White House did not budge on the President’s key demand, $5.6 billion to build a wall on the US-Mexico border.

The White House said funding was not discussed in-depth, but the administration was clear they needed funding for a wall and that they wanted to resolve the shutdown all at once.

Accusations flew after the more than two-hour session led by Vice President Mike Pence. Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union,” accused Democrats of being there to “stall.” Democrats familiar with the meeting said the White House position was “untenable.”

A White House official said the meeting included a briefing on border security by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. Democrats sought written details from the Department of Homeland Security on their budget needs, which the White House said it would provide.

With talks stalled, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that House Democrats plan to start approving individual bills to reopen shuttered departments starting with Treasury to ensure Americans receive their tax refunds.

“While President Trump threatens to keep the government shut down for ‘years’, Democrats are taking immediate further action to re-open government, so that we can meet the needs of the American people, protect our borders and respect our workers,” Pelosi said.

In an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” set to air yesterday, Mulvaney argued that the administration was willing to deal. He said Trump was willing to forgo a concrete wall for steel or other materials.

“If he has to give up a concrete wall, replace it with a steel fence in order to do that so that Democrats can say, ‘See? He’s not building a wall anymore,’ that should help us move in the right direction,” Mulvaney said.

The President has already suggested his definition of the wall is flexible, referring to slats and other “border things.”

But Democrats have made clear they see a wall as immoral and ineffective and prefer other types of border security funded at already agreed upon levels.

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