WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s aides and congressional Democrats continued to assail each other Sunday over the proposed U.S.-Mexican border wall that triggered a partial government shutdown – now in its second week and likely to continue into the new year.
Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump is waiting for counteroffers from Democrats about a proposed spending plan that includes money for a wall and other border security measures.
“He has said that he’s ready to receive a counteroffer from the Democrats,” Conway said on Fox News Sunday. She declined to provide details on what Trump would or would not accept.
Congressional Democrats said Trump knows they will not support federal money for his proposed wall. They said the president refused to endorse a spending plan worked out this month by bipartisan leaders in Congress and said he was willing to shut down the government over the wall and his version of border security.
"The president moved the goalposts," Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said on CBS' "Face the Nation."
Trump, meanwhile, tweeted an Associated Press poll result that 62 percent of veterans support his handling of border security.
Trump also mocked former President Barack Obama, saying he has a "ten foot Wall" around his home in Washington, D.C. "The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!" Trump said.
In another post, Trump praised an administration agreement that would allow Coast Guard members to be paid Dec. 31. "No thanks to the Democrats who left town and are not concerned about the safety and security of Americans!" he added.
The president’s tweet referred to the impasse as the “#SchumerShutdown,” named for Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y..
Democrats prefer to call it "the Trump Shutdown."
Schumer spokesman Justin Goodman said some White House officials say Trump is willing to compromise, while others say he is "holding firm at no less than $5 billion" for his wall.
Goodman said Schumer made clear that "there are three proposals with funding for smart and effective border security that could pass both chambers" and urged the president "to take one of those to end the Trump Shutdown.”
Trump refused to sign any kind of spending bill that does not include more than $5 billion for the wall and border security measures. The last spending bill expired at midnight Dec. 21, starting the latest shutdown of certain government agencies.
The Republican-run House passed a bill to Trump’s liking, but Democrats in the Senate blocked its passage. The new Congress convenes Thursday, when Democrats will take control of the House as the majority.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told CNN's "State of the Union" that Trump "is not going to walk away from this fight without border security funding, money for the wall."
Graham, who had lunch Sunday with Trump at the White House, pushed a compromise deal in which Democrats would support wall funding in exchange for new legal status for "Dreamers," the children of undocumented parents whose fate is uncertain after Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Graham said "the wall has become a metaphor for border security, and what we're talking about is a physical barrier where it makes sense." He said Democrats supported such physical barriers in the past.
During days of back-and-forth since the shutdown began, Trump and his aides threatened to close down the entire southern border and suggested the budget standoff could continue for weeks.
In Sunday show interviews, Conway said there is more to Trump’s border security agenda than a wall.
Though "there may be a wall in some places," Conway told Fox News, "there may be steel slats, there may be technological enhancements. But always saying ‘wall or no wall’ is being very disingenuous and turning a complete blind eye to what is a crisis at the border."
Conway mocked Nancy Pelosi, the likely new House speaker, for vacationing in Hawaii, saying the California Democrat needs “less hula, more moola" for border funding.
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told CBS' "Face the Nation" that “our negotiations are at an impasse at the moment," and both sides are starting to look “silly.”
"We can do better, and we've got to figure out a way ... to get to yes," Shelby said. "If we blame each other, this could last a long, long time."