CATHERINE LUCEY and LISA MASCARO | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump kept up pressure Monday on congressional Democrats over funding for his promised border wall, even as lawmakers appeared likely to avert a partial government shutdown this week with a stopgap measure.
Democrats have little interest in providing the $5 billion Trump wants for the border with Mexico. And even some Republicans balk at spending more than the $1.6 billion already provided. But Trump has signaled he’s ready to fight for the money as one of the last big-ticket items of the GOP-led Congress before Democrats take over the House in the new year.
Trump tweeted Monday: “We would save Billions of Dollars if the Democrats would give us the votes to build the Wall.” He did not provide any evidence for the savings, but again threatened to close the “entire Southern Border if necessary.”
The president invited the top Democratic leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, to the White House for a meeting Tuesday, officials said. But it may be postponed.
Trump was gearing up for a showdown as he sought billions for the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Trump told reporters on Air Force One Saturday he would be willing to sign a two-week government funding extension to allow for ceremonies honoring former President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday.
“I would absolutely consider it and probably give it,” he told reporters. The White House is expecting that to be between 7 and 14 days, said a White House official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Democrats, though, prefer only a one-week measure as talks continue. Schumer has suggested about $3 billion for the wall — the $1.6 billion already offered along with the remaining $1.3 billion from this fiscal year the administration has not yet spent — and has said the country shouldn’t have to endure a shutdown over “Trump’s temper tantrum.”
Congress has just two weeks to wrap up the session, a full workload on the to-do list, before lawmakers adjourn for the holidays and the end of the year.
Lawmakers are considering a sweeping criminal justice package with sentencing reforms, a farm bill that’s a top priority of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other items before year-end.
McConnell told reporters in Louisville on Saturday it’s up to Trump “to do a deal with the Democrats.” He said, “I think that’s the path to getting a signature and avoiding a government shutdown.”
Most of the federal government has been funded for the fiscal year that runs through Sept. 30, 2019, but the stalemate is over wall funds and other remaining federal agencies. Federal funding for those expires at midnight on Friday.