White House officials and congressional staffers will continue negotiations on Saturday over the government shutdown, even after President Donald Trump declared he could keep it going for “months or even years”.
Trump met on Friday with congressional leaders from both parties as the shutdown hit the two-week mark amid an impasse over his demand for billions of dollars for a border wall with Mexico. Democrats emerged from the meeting, which both sides said was contentious at times, to report little if any progress.
Trump has designated Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, and adviser Jared Kushner to work with a congressional delegation at a meeting set for 11am (16:00 GMT) Saturday.
Trump is framing the upcoming weekend talks as progress, while Democrats are emphasizing families unable to pay bills.
“I hope it doesn’t go on even before a few more days,” Trump said on Friday, referring to the shutdown. “It really could open very quickly. We had a very, very productive meeting, and we’ve come a long way.”
Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi described Friday’s meeting as “lengthy and sometimes contentious”.
Key parts of the US government shut down on December 22 after Trump refused to back down on his request for more than five billion dollars in funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border, which the Democrats oppose.
The standoff has prompted economic jitters and anxiety among some in Trump’s own party.
“We won’t be opening until it’s solved,” Trump said. “I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and the safety of our country.”
The US president reportedly said he preferred to call the action a “strike”.