Washington — President Trump met with Democratic leaders Wednesday in their first face-to-face meeting since the partial government shutdown began 12 days ago. But the impasse will continue until at least Friday when the president has asked congressional leaders back to the White House. He offered no clues on when the government will reopen.
"Could be a long time or it could be quickly. Could be a long time," he saidat the White House.
Publicly, Mr. Trump is sticking to his demand for $5 billion for a wall on the southern border. Democrats have offered roughly a fifth of that amount for border security, but not wall construction.
"We're talking about national security. This isn't just a border, this is national security, this is health and wellness, this is everything," Mr. Trump said.
After meeting with the president in the Situation Room on Wednesday, top Democrats said polls show the country is on their side.
"The bottom line is very simple. At our last meeting, the president said, 'I am going to shut the government down.' They are now feeling the heat. It is not helping the president. It is not helping the Republicans to be the owners of this shutdown," said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
In the nation's capital, tourist attractions like the National Zoo, most museums and the National Archives are closed. National parks remain shut down too, but some are being used anyway. At Yosemite, trash is piling up because of a lack of funds to haul it away.
Laurie McCann, a furloughed IRS program analyst outside of Chicago, is worried about paying her medical bills after a recent surgery.
"I have to figure out how to pay my necessary living expenses soon. I will go right through my savings, you know, and then I have to figure out what to do," she said.
The new House Democratic majority will open Congress on Thursday and vote on GOP-drafted bills to end the shutdown, including one that would allow for a month of border security negotiations. But Senate Republican leaders said it's dead on arrival because the president won't support it.