New caravan of Honduran migrants crosses into Mexico

People belonging to a caravan of migrants from Honduras en route to the United States, walk at the border crossing to Mexico in Hidalgo, Mexico, January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas

By Sofia Menchu

CIUDAD HIDALGO, Mexico (Reuters) – A group of Honduran migrants entered southern Mexico on Friday, joining more than 1,000 people who departed Central America in recent days headed to the United States and putting to the test Mexico’s vows to guarantee the safe and orderly flow of people.

The cohort crossed into southern Chiapas state before dawn without needing wrist bands that migration officials the day before told migrants to wear until they could register with authorities, several migrants and an official told Reuters.

“The road today was open … They didn’t give us bracelets or anything, they just let us pass through Mexico migration,” said Marco Antonio Cortez, 37, a baker from Honduras traveling with his wife and children, ages 2 and 9.

A migration official at the entry point, who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to speak to media, said that at least 1,000 people crossed from Guatemala into Mexico by around 5 a.m., without needing wrist bands.

The group proceeded on foot alongside cars on a highway, accompanied by federal police officers.

Mexico’s migration institute did not respond to a request for comment.

Groups of migrants departed from El Salvador and Honduras earlier in the week, the latest in a string of caravans of people largely fleeing poverty and violence.

The caravans have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a wall at the southern border with Mexico.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is pursuing a “humanitarian” approach to the problem, vowing to stem the flow of people by finding jobs for the migrants. In exchange, he wants Trump to help spur economic development in the region.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Susan Thomas)

U.S. government shutdown enters its 26th day as talks paralyzed

FILE PHOTO: Following a weekend snowstorm, the dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen in the distance as a jogger stops to photograph the Washington Monument in Washington U.S., January 14, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday is expected to sign legislation providing 800,000 federal employees with back pay when the partial government shutdown ends, even through a conclusion to the impasse remains no where in sight.

As the shutdown stretches into its 26th day, Trump is also scheduled to meet with a bipartisan group of lawmakers at 11:30 a.m..

Whether the meeting is related to the shutdown was not immediately clear, however. Neither the White House nor lawmakers’ offices immediately responded to a request for details.

The shutdown began on Dec. 22, after Trump insisted he would not sign legislation funding a quarter of government agencies unless it included more than $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico.

The wall was a signature campaign promise of his before the 2016 presidential election. Trump said at the time Mexico would pay for it but has since reversed himself, denying that he ever said Mexico would directly foot the bill for the wall.

On Wednesday, Trump continued to blame Democrats for the standoff and trumpet his support of the wall, writing in a post on Twitter that wall projects around the world “have all been recognized as close to 100% successful. Stop the crime at our Southern Border!”

It was not immediately clear what wall projects he was referring to.

His tweets appear unlikely to move Democrats, who have controlled the House of Representatives since Jan. 3. Trump also needs the support of at least some Democrats in the Senate to pass funding legislation.

Senate Democrats have planned an event on the steps of the Capitol intended to highlight the havoc of the shutdown is wreaking, as 800,000 federal workers are furloughed – meaning they are forced to stay home, or work without pay – and contractors do not receive payments.

Economists have estimated that each week the shutdown continues will shave off 0.1 percent of economic growth.

More than half of Americans blame Trump for the government shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. A separate poll found the shutdown has affected four in 10 Americans, far beyond the 800,000 federal employees directly feeling the impact of the funding lapses.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

Shutdown bites economy as Democrats reject Trump invitation to talk

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks before speaking to the media as he returns from Camp David to the White House in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

By Steve Holland and Ginger Gibson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy is taking a larger-than-expected hit from the partial government shutdown, White House estimates showed on Tuesday, as congressional Democrats rejected President Donald Trump’s invitation to discuss the issue.

The shutdown dragged into its 25th day on Tuesday with neither Trump nor Democratic congressional leaders showing signs of bending on the topic that triggered it – funding for the wall Trump promised to build along the border with Mexico.

Trump invited a bipartisan group of members of Congress for lunch at 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT) to discuss the standoff but the White House said Democrats turned down the invitation. Nine Republicans were expected to attend.

Trump is insisting Congress shell out $5.7 billion as about 800,000 federal workers go unpaid during the partial shutdown.

“It’s time for the Democrats to come to the table and make a deal,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.

House Democratic leaders said they did not tell members to boycott Trump’s lunch but had pressed those invited to consider whether the talks would be productive or produce a photo-op for the president.

“We are unified,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday morning.

The Trump administration had initially estimated the shutdown would cost the economy 0.1 percentage point in growth every two weeks that employees were without pay.

But on Tuesday, there was an updated figure: 0.13 percentage point every week because of the impact of work left undone by 380,000 furloughed employees as well as work left aside by federal contractors, a White House official said.

SHUTDOWN IMPACT

The partial shutdown is the longest in U.S. history and its effects have begun to reverberate across the country.

Longer lines have formed at some airports as more security screeners fail to show up for work while food and drug inspections have been curtailed and farmers, stung by recent trade spats, have been unable to receive federal aid.

Speaking on CNBC, Delta Air Lines Inc Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said the partial shutdown will cost the airline $25 million in lost revenue in January because fewer government contractors are traveling.

Trump ran for office in 2016 on a promise to build a wall to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking. He had toyed with the prospect of declaring a national emergency to circumvent Congress to secure the funding, but this week has backed off from that idea, which would attract a court challenge.

Democrats, who took over the U.S. House of Representatives this month, have rejected the border wall but back other border security measures.

They have also insisted that Trump and Republicans reopen government before negotiations occur.

“We can keep on the pressure on negotiations over (border) security but it is long past time that we reopen the government, and make sure it is not federal employees, their families and businesses that are being held hostage,” said Democrat Representative Katherine Clark.

House Democrats have passed a number of bills to fund the roughly one-quarter of federal operations that have been closed, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said the chamber will not consider legislation that Trump will not sign into law.

McConnell, who has mainly stayed out of the public fray on the shutdown, on Tuesday accused Democrats of “acrobatic contortions” to avoid negotiating on the shutdown.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Cornwell, Ginger Gibson, Makini Brice, Susan Heavey; Writing by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Trott)

Trump to meet lawmakers at White House as shutdown enters 25th day

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a "roundtable discussion on border security and safe communities" with state, local, and community leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 11, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will meet members of Congress at the White House on Tuesday as the partial U.S. government shutdown enters a 25th day without resolution amid a standoff over border wall funding.

Trump is scheduled to host the lawmakers for lunch, according to his public schedule, which did not say who was attending. Moderate House Democrats were invited, CNN and Politico reported.

Representatives for the White House and congressional leaders did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Neither Trump nor Democratic leaders in Congress have shown signs of bending on wall funding but the Washington Post on Monday reported a new bipartisan group of U.S. senators is searching for an agreement that could help end the partial shutdown.

Trump, who has demanded $5.7 billion from Congress to build his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, on Monday rejected a call by fellow Republicans to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on border security issues.

He campaigned in 2016 on a promise of building a wall to stop illegal immigration and drug trafficking and more recently raised the possibility of declaring a national emergency to go around Congress to secure funding for the wall. In recent days, however, he has said that he would prefer Congress to act.

Democrats, who took over the U.S. House of Representatives this month, have rejected the border wall but back other border security measures.

House Democrats have passed a number of bills to fund the roughly one-quarter of federal operations that have been closed, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said the chamber will not consider legislation that Trump will not sign into law.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday called on McConnell to move forward, suggesting that Congress go around the president.

The partial shutdown is the longest in U.S. history and its effects have begun to reverberate across the country.

Longer lines have formed at some airports as more security screeners fail to show up for work while food and drug inspections have been curtailed and farmers, stung by recent trade spats, have been unable to receive federal aid.

The shutdown began on Dec. 22 and its impact is worrying some on Wall Street. Roughly 800,000 federal employees are feeling the financial sting after missing their first paycheck last week, a loss of income expected to have ripple effects.

Speaking on CNBC, Delta Air Lines Inc Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian said the partial shutdown will cost the airline $25 million in lost revenue in January because fewer government contractors are traveling.

Other U.S. airlines also are not able to open new routes or use new airplanes because they need certification from federal officials who are furloughed.

A number of companies, already concerned about a global economic uncertainty, also have urged Republicans and Democrats to end the stalemate in Washington.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Trott)

U.S. government shutdown drags into fourth week amid stalemate

Travelers wait in a security line at Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., January 13, 2019. REUTERS/David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A partial government shutdown entered its 24th day on Monday as talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats remained stalled even as some of Trump’s fellow Republicans called on the president to cut a deal and strains mounted nationwide.

Trump appeared unmoved to act, however, retweeting criticism of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer that urged the top Democratic leaders to negotiate with him over funding for his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I’ve been waiting all weekend. Democrats must get to work now. Border must be secured!” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet on Monday.

Democrats have rejected Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for the border wall in addition to other border funds but have said they would support $1.3 billion to bolster border security in other ways, including beefing up the number of Border Patrol agents and increasing surveillance.

About one-quarter of the U.S. government shut down last month as Republicans controlled both chambers of Congress as well as the White House. In December Trump said he would take responsibility for the shutdown but has since shifted the blame to Democrats. A growing proportion of Americans blame Trump for the closures, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

He now must win concessions from the Democrats, who took over the U.S. House of Representatives this month following November’s elections. He also must win over enough Senate Democrats to secure the 60 votes needed to pass funding legislation there.

The stress from the shutdown became more visible as 800,000 federal employees across the United States missed their first paychecks on Friday. The cut government services also affected travelers as a jump in unscheduled absences among federal airport security screeners forced partial closures of airports in Houston and Miami.

National parks also remain shuttered, food and drug inspections have been curtailed and key economic data is on hold, among other impacts. Federal courts are set to run out of money on Friday.

ADDRESS TO FARMERS

Later on Monday, Trump is scheduled to address a New Orleans gathering of farmers, a key bloc of Trump supporters who have been hit by the shutdown as federal loan and farm aid applications have stalled and key farming and crop data has been delayed.

Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who last week had called on Trump to declare a national emergency as a way to get money to build his wall, on Sunday urged the president to instead reopen the government for a short period of time in an effort to restart talks before taking such action.

Declaring a national emergency over immigration issues is fiercely opposed by Democrats and remains unpopular with some Republicans. It also would likely face an immediate legal challenge.

Pelosi called on the Republican-led Senate to vote on several bills passed earlier this month by the House to fund affected departments that do not include money for Trump’s wall. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not take up any legislation that does not have Trump’s support.

Representatives for Schumer could not be immediately reached for comment on Monday.

Both the Senate and the House were scheduled to reconvene on Monday afternoon, despite a weekend winter storm shuttered much of the Washington area and it remained unclear what, if any, steps lawmakers might take to address the lapsed funding measures for affected agencies.

Senator Chris Coons on Monday reiterated fellow Democrats’ call for Trump to reopen the government while negotiations over the wall and immigration continue.

He acknowledged efforts by Graham and other Republicans to forge a temporary solution but said Trump has been unpredictable even among fellow conservatives with ever-shifting positions.

“Every time they make progress, the president throws cold water on it,” Coons told CNN in an interview.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Trott)

As U.S. shutdown ties record, Trump weighs emergency declaration

President Donald Trump salutes a U.S. Border Patrol helicopter as he stands with U.S. Border Patrol agents as it flies over the Rio Grande River during his visit to the U.S. - Mexico border in Mission, Texas, U.S., January 10, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump, facing the prospect of the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, is considering declaring a national emergency that would likely escalate a policy dispute with Democrats over his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall into a court test of presidential power.

To escape a political trap of his own making, Trump on Thursday suggested that he might declare an emergency so he can bypass Congress to get funding for his wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 election campaign.

As the partial government shutdown entered its 21st day on Friday, Trump reiterated his claim in an early-morning tweet, saying Mexico would indirectly pay for the wall, without offering any evidence. It would become the longest U.S. shutdown on Saturday.

He originally pledged Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But the Mexican government has refused. Trump is now demanding that Congress provide $5.7 billion in U.S. taxpayer funding for the wall.

Democrats in Congress call the wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem. The standoff has left a quarter of the federal government closed down and hundreds of thousands of federal employees staying home on furlough or working without pay set to miss their paychecks.

With no Capitol Hill compromise in sight, Trump publicly ruminated on Thursday during a trip to the Texas border about declaring an emergency.

A close Trump confidant judged the time for such a step had come. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement: “It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works.”

The Wall Street Journal, NBC and the Washington Post, citing unnamed sources, reported that the White House had asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to look into diverting money from its budget toward the wall and to explore how fast construction could begin under an emergency declaration. Reuters could not immediately verify the accuracy of the reports.

BOXED IN

Critics of the national emergency strategy have said it may be illegal. In any case, it was almost certain to trigger an immediate court challenge from Democrats, including an accusation of trying to circumvent Congress’ power over the national purse strings.

That would push the wall impasse into the courts, allowing the government to be fully reopened while the judges weigh the case, which could take months.

“After the emergency announcement, the path toward construction via executive order may be as unclear as a storm at midnight. But it will at least allow the president to move out of the corner he’s boxed himself into,” said Charles Gabriel, analyst at strategy firm Capital Alpha Partners.

Partial government funding expired on Dec. 22, leaving departments ranging from Justice, Agriculture and Treasury to Commerce and Homeland Security without money to operate programs and pay their workers.

An emergency declaration would come with risks. Even some of Trump’s fellow Republicans in Congress have signaled worries about such an action. Given that the Constitution gives Congress the power to set spending priorities and appropriate money, they worry about a tough legal fight and an unwise precedent.

‘CROSSING THE RUBICON’

“If Trump crosses this Rubicon, what would prevent a Democratic president from declaring a ‘national emergency’ on Day 1 of their administration on climate change and/or healthcare?” Chris Krueger, an analyst at strategy firm Cowen Washington Research Group, asked in a commentary note.

Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat who has had good relations with Trump, said declaring a national emergency would be “wrong, but I think that’s his only way out.”

Manchin predicted that if Trump made the declaration, Congress would immediately move to pass bills funding the various agencies, knowing that the president would then be able to sign them into law.

While some Republican senators have begun clamoring for an end to the shutdown, party leaders toeing Trump’s line this week have ignored passage in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives of funding bills for government agencies. The House was expected to pass more such bills on Friday.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Peter Cooney)

Trump, Democrats dig in over ending government shutdown

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to reporters about border security in the Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., January 3, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

By Richard Cowan and Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and congressional leaders gathered at the White House on Friday to try to end a 2-week-old partial U.S. government shutdown but all parties were entrenched over his demand for $5 billion to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

About 800,000 federal workers have been unpaid due to the closure of about a quarter of the federal government as Trump withholds his support for new funding until he secures the money for the wall that he promised to construct during his election campaign.

The wall, Trump has argued, is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs over the border. When he ran for president in 2016, Trump vowed Mexico would pay for the wall, which it has refused to do.

Democratic congressional leaders arrived at the White House for the meeting with Trump but it was unclear how much progress might be made.

It is the first showdown between Trump and Democrats since they took over the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday after victories in last November’s elections.

“The president isn’t going to back off,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters before the talks began.

The Senate on Friday adjourned until Tuesday afternoon in a sign that the shutdown would likely not end before then.

Ahead of the meeting, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sought to separate the issue of the wall and government funding and called on Trump and his fellow Republicans in the Senate to reopen agencies as border talks continue.

“The wall and the government shutdown really have nothing to do with each other,” Pelosi, who has rejected any funding for what she has called an “immoral” border wall, said at an event hosted by MSNBC.

About 800,000 federal employees have either been furloughed or are working without pay because of the shutdown.

It is showing signs of straining the country’s immigration system and has been blamed for worsening backlogs in courts and complicating hiring for employers.

Trump continued to promote the wall in tweets to keep the pressure on Democrats on Thursday even as they gained significant power with their takeover of the House at the start of a new Congress.

TRUMP LETTER

Trump sent a letter to all members of Congress on Friday “on the need to secure our borders,” the White House said.

“Absolutely critical to border security and national security is a wall or a physical barrier that prevents entry in the first place,” Trump wrote.

Late on Thursday, the House passed two Democratic bills to immediately reopen government agencies for varying lengths of time, despite a White House veto threat.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has rejected the House effort saying the president would not sign into law, although the Senate last month approved identical legislation.

“We’re in the same place … Any viable compromise will need to carry the endorsement of the president before it receives a vote in either house of Congress,” McConnell said, speaking on the Senate floor Friday morning.

But he may face pressure from within his caucus from vulnerable Republicans up for re-election in 2020.

“We should pass a continuing resolution to get the government back open. The Senate has done it last Congress, we should do it again today,” U.S. Senator Cory Gardner told The Hill on Thursday.

His colleague Susan Collins also called for the Senate to pass the funding bills, while several other Republicans urged an end to the shutdown, the Hill and New York Times reported.

Pelosi on Friday urged McConnell to bring the measures up for a vote. “The president can sign or not but he should never say, ‘I’m not even going to put it on the president’s desk,'” she told MSNBC, noting Congress can pass bills without Trump’s support.

Legislation can become law with a veto-proof majority of lawmakers’ support or if the president does not sign it or veto it within 10 days.

Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday suggested that in exchange for the wall, the White House could work with Democrats on so-called Dreamer immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children – an idea Trump had rejected.

“It’s being talked about,” Pence told Fox News.

Democrats back other border security measures aside from the wall, and their two-bill package passed Thursday includes $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items such as technology and cameras.

In a Dec. 11 meeting with Pelosi and Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut the government over the security issue and would not blame Democrats. He has since said they are responsible.

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll last week showed that 50 percent of the public blame Trump for the shutdown and 7 percent blame Republican lawmakers, against 32 percent who blame Democrats.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Susan Cornwell and Lisa Lambert; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Bill Trott)

White House calls Democratic plan to end shutdown ‘non-starter’

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Capitol is seen on the first day of a partial federal government shutdown in Washington, U.S., December 22, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File Photo

By Jeff Mason and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump invited Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress to the White House for a border security briefing on Wednesday, the 12th day of a partial U.S. government shutdown triggered by his demand for $5 billion in border wall funding.

Department of Homeland Security officials will brief the congressional leaders, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, on the last day that Trump’s fellow Republicans will control both chambers of Congress.

The meeting is set for 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) in the White House Situation Room, generally used for high-level security concerns such as military planning.

Democrats take charge of the House of Representatives from Trump’s fellow Republicans when the new 2019-2020 Congress convenes on Thursday. Led by presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, they have scheduled votes on their first day in power on legislation that would end the shutdown without providing the wall funding Trump wants. Republicans retain control of the Senate.

“The Pelosi plan is a non-starter because it does not fund our homeland security or keep American families safe from human trafficking, drugs, and crime,” Sanders said in a statement late on Tuesday.

Roughly a quarter of the federal government and 800,000 federal employees are affected by a shutdown, which was caused by a lapse in funding for the agencies.

The shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, was precipitated by Trump’s demand as part of any federal funding measure for $5 billion to help build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border that was a centerpiece of his 2016 presidential campaign. The project’s total price tag is estimated at $23 billion.

It was unclear if Wednesday’s meeting, arranged by Trump on Tuesday, would lead to a breakthrough. Democrats oppose the wall and Trump’s funding demand.

Prospects for the two-part Democratic spending package that will be voted upon in the House appear grim in the Senate. The measure sets up the first major battle of the new Congress between House Democrats led by Pelosi and Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell has said Senate Republicans will not approve a spending measure Trump does not support.

The visit by Pelosi and Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer would be their first to the White House since their sharp exchange with Trump in the Oval Office on Dec. 11 during which the president told them, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security.” He has since blamed Democrats for the shutdown.

The Democrats’ two-part package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8 and provide $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items including technology and cameras.

The second part of the package would fund the other federal agencies that are now unfunded including the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, Commerce and Justice, through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Trump has called the wall crucial to curbing illegal immigration and combating drug trafficking. Democrats disagree, with Pelosi calling the wall immoral, ineffective and expensive. Trump made the border wall a key part of his presidential campaign and said Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has refused.

If they spurn funding bills for departments unrelated to border security, Republicans could be seen as holding those agencies and hundreds of thousands of affected employees hostage to Trump’s desire for a wall, part of his hard-line immigration policies that appeal to his conservative political base.

(Reporting by Amanda Becker, Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott)

Republican Senator Graham says Trump receptive to shutdown deal idea

Capitol Hill is seen as a partial U.S. government shutdown continues in Washington, U.S., December 30, 2018. REUTERS/Jim Young

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham said on Sunday he was optimistic that Republicans, Democrats and President Donald Trump could reach a deal to end a government shutdown that includes border wall funding and legal status for some illegal immigrants.

FILE PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) waits for U.S. President Donald Trump to enter the room to speak about the "First Step Act" in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

FILE PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) waits for U.S. President Donald Trump to enter the room to speak about the “First Step Act” in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. November 14, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo

Graham, a Republican, told reporters after meeting Trump for lunch at the White House that Trump was receptive to Graham’s idea of a deal that might provide work permits to so-called Dreamers, people brought illegally to the United States as children, in exchange for money for physical border barriers.

“The president was upbeat, he was in a very good mood, and I think he’s receptive to making a deal,” Graham said, adding that Trump found the potential Dreamer concession “interesting.”

But the senator said there would never be a government spending deal that did not include money for a wall or other physical barriers on the U.S.-Mexico border. The wall was one of the central promises of Trump’s presidential campaign.

“I don’t see Democrats giving us more money unless they get something. So, the one thing we talked about is making deals,” Graham said.

“After lunch I’ve never been more encouraged that if we can get people talking we can find our way out of this mess and that would include around $5 billion for border security, slash wall, slash fencing whatever you want to call it in areas that make sense,” he added.

Trump later made clear on Twitter that he regarded a wall as necessary.

“President and Mrs. Obama built/has a ten foot Wall around their D.C. mansion/compound. I agree, totally necessary for their safety and security,” Trump wrote. “The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!”

Earlier, on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, Graham floated the idea of giving Democrats a version of stalled legislation to protect Dreamers from deportation in exchange for wall funding.

The Trump administration in 2017 announced plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, begun under former President Barack Obama to shield Dreamers from deportation. But Trump’s DACA phase-out has been delayed by court rulings against it.

With the partial government shutdown in its ninth day on Sunday, some other lawmakers were less upbeat about prospects for a deal to restore spending authority.

Republican Senator Richard Shelby warned on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that negotiations were at an impasse and the shutdown “could last a long, long time.”

Democratic U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries said the country needed comprehensive immigration reform and border security.

“We are not willing to pay $2.5 billion or $5 billion and wasting taxpayer dollars on a ransom note because Donald Trump decided that he was going to shut down the government and hold the American people hostage,” Jeffries said on ABC.

Democrats take control of the U.S. House of Representatives this week, following November’s congressional elections.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner and David Lawder; Additional reporting by Christopher Bing and Doina Chiacu; Writing by David Lawder; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Peter Cooney)

Trump says U.S. government shutdown to last until agreement on border wall

U.S. President Donald Trump clasps his hands as he holds a video call with U.S. military service members in the Oval Office on Christmas morning in Washington, U.S., December 25, 2018. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the partial shutdown of the federal government was going to last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border is met.

The U.S. government partially shut down on Saturday, and there is not yet any sign of tangible efforts to reopen agencies closed by a political impasse over Trump’s demand for border wall funds.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” Trump said, speaking after a Christmas Day video conference with U.S. troops serving abroad. “I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs.”

He added: “If you don’t have that (the wall), then we’re just not opening.”

Funding for about a quarter of federal programs – including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture – expired at midnight on Friday. Without a deal to break the impasse, the shutdown is likely to stretch into the new year.

Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises, but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it.

(Reporting by Makini Brice; writing by Yeganeh Torbati, editing by G Crosse)