Trump floats ending shutdown with a 'down payment' on wall, but Pelosi doesn't blink

After the Senate failed Thursday to pass either of two bills that would have reopened the federal government, President Trump floated a compromise of sorts on his demand for $5.7 billion to build a barrier on the border with Mexico.

It didn’t win over the person it was intended to appeal to, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“One of the ideas suggested is they open it, they pay a sort of prorated down payment for the wall which, I think, people agree that you need. You need the wall. In fact, I see a lot of the Democrats, almost all of them are breaking saying, ‘Look, walls are good. Walls are good.'”

Trump’s remarks came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., huddled on Capitol Hill seeking a deal to end the longest government shutdown in U.S. history. Neither a Republican bill containing money for a wall nor a Democratic one that did not received the 60 votes needed for passage, although the Democratic bill, which attracted support from a handful of Republicans, came closer.

Hours earlier, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that a short-term spending bill to reopen government “would only work if there is a large down payment on the wall.”

Neither Sanders nor the president offered any details about  how much money constituted a “large down payment.” In December, Trump scuttled a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through February because it didn’t have an appropriation for the wall.

When asked by reporters about Trump’s proposal for a large “prorated down payment,” Pelosi responded, “That is not a reasonable agreement.”

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Union workers demonstrate in front of the White House against the government shutdown on January 10, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump headed Thursday to the US-Mexico border to push his demand for a wall, a day after he walked out of negotiations with Democrats in a political crisis paralyzing the government. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Union members and Internal Revenue Service workers rally outside an IRS Service Center to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
IRS worker Christine Helquist joins a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
IRS worker Angela Gran, center, and others participate in a federal workers protest rally outside the Federal Building, Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. Payday will come Friday without any checks for about 800,000 federal employees affected by the government shutdown, forcing workers to scale back spending, cancel trips, apply for unemployment benefits and take out loans to stay afloat. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Cheryl Monroe, right, a Food and Drug Administration employee, and Bertrice Sanders, a Social Security Administration employee, rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Government workers rally against the partial government shutdown at Federal Plaza, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, in Chicago. The partial government shutdown continues to drag on with hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job or working without pay as the border wall fight persists. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
People gather during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
People gather during a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Furloughed TSA worker Marae Persson shows participates in a federal workers protest rally at the Federal Building Thursday, Jan., 10, 2019, in Ogden, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Furloughed National Park Service ranger Kathryn Gilson, center, listens as fellow furloughed ranger Sean Ghazala, left, speaks to the media, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, during a press conference and rally at Staten Island's La Colmena Center in New York. Ghazala is based at Manhattan's African Burial Ground, and Gilson works at Gateway National Recreation Area, a national park encompassing wetlands surrounding New York city and parts of New Jersey's coastline. Gilson says she is home "bouncing off the walls" and worrying about paying her bills and student loan. Staten Island is a largely Republican borough of New York city, but Democrat Max Rose recently defeated his Republican opponent in the 2018 congressional elections. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
People rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown in Detroit, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Union members and other federal employees protest the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Union members protest the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Union members and other federal employees stop in front of the White House in Washington during a rally to call for an end to the partial government shutdown, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. . (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A demonstrator holds a 'Stop The Shutdown' sign during a rally with union members and federal employees to end the partial government shutdown outside the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019. The partial government shutdown entered its 20th day today as its impact is more widely felt with about 800,000 federal workers who will miss their paychecks on Friday. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Union workers demonstrate in front of the White House against the government shutdown on January 10, 2019, in Washington, DC. - US President Donald Trump headed Thursday to the US-Mexico border to push his demand for a wall, a day after he walked out of negotiations with Democrats in a political crisis paralyzing the government. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
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Trump also told White House reporters he would support a “reasonable agreement” between McConnell and Schumer, but was mum on specifics.

“If they come to a reasonable agreement, I would support it, yes,” Trump said.

Pelosi, however, made clear that she wasn’t interested in giving the president more money for a wall.

“The president just said that if they come to a reasonable agreement he would support it. I hope that that doesn’t mean some big down payment for the wall,” Pelosi said. Asked by reporters if she knew what Trump meant by a “large prorated down payment,” she said she didn’t. “I don’t know if he knows what he’s talking about,” she said. “Do you?”

The president has often referred to congressional funding for border security as a “down payment” for a border wall, his signature campaign promise. The $5.7 billion he is seeking now would pay for a wall extending only a fraction of the entire 2,000-mile border, or even the 1,000 miles he has said in the past would suffice.

Trump has also gone back and forth on the construction of the wall, variously concrete or steel slats, and how he would fulfill his campaign promise that Mexico would pay for it. The Mexican government has refused even to discuss the idea, and most recently Trump has said the funds would come indirectly from Mexico as a side effect of the new trade agreement he has negotiated to replace NAFTA. He has also claimed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill he signed on March 23 included “an initial downpayment” for his wall, but Pelosi had a different take.

“Democrats won explicit language restricting border construction to the same see-through fencing that was already authorized under current law,” Pelosi said.

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