Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday night that the Trump administration had no plans to back down from its demand for $5.6 billion in funding for a border wall, even if it means keeping the government partially closed.
“The president has made it very clear: No wall, no deal,” Pence told Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. “We’re here to make a deal, but it’s a deal that’s going to result in achieving real gains on border security, and you have no border security without a wall. We will have no deal without a wall.”
The partial government shutdown, which began shortly before Christmas, is stretching into its third week with no end in sight. House Democrats under the leadership of newly elected Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), passed legislation meant to reopen closed agencies, but those efforts have already been deemed dead on arrival by Republican leaders. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has said he would block any bill without first obtaining President Donald Trump’s approval, and Trump has refused to back down from his demand that a government spending bill include the $5.6 billion for the wall.
Pence on Thursday repeatedly said the White House was willing to negotiate with the Democrats to sort out some kind of compromise, although he said there would be no deal without funding for some sort of barrier along the Mexico border.
“We really are prepared to negotiate, we’re prepared to talk, we’re prepared to listen,” the vice president said. “I want the American people to know that this is a real crisis at our border, and we made progress last year.”
Congressional leaders from both parties are expected to meet with Trump at the White House again on Friday.
Some GOP senators began to break with their party on Thursday, however, and urged McConnell to consider compromising on legislation even if Trump didn’t get immediate funding for border security. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) told The Hill that the chamber should pass a continuing resolution, a stop-gap funding measure, to “get the government back open.”
“We can pass legislation that has the appropriations number in it while we continue to get more, but we should continue to do our jobs and get the government open,” he told the outlet.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also said Thursday she would support a proposal to separate homeland security funding from other funding bills in order to reopen most of the government agencies that have been affected.