WASHINGTON - U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy says President Donald Trump invited congressional leaders back to the White House Friday for more talks on how to end the government shutdown.
Trump is demanding $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. southern border. Democrats have refused to allocate that amount.
Wednesday's meeting between Trump and top Democrats and Republicans ended with no sign of progress, beyond the president's willingness to continue talks.
"We know we have a challenge along the border. We want to solve that issue," McCarthy told reporters. "We want to make sure we open this government up. And I think at the end of the day, the president, listening to him, he wants to solve this, as well."
‘As long as it takes’
Before sitting down with members of Congress, Trump said the government shutdown would last "as long as it takes."
"It could be a long time, or it could be quickly," he told his Cabinet.
He also insisted that "walls work," and called the border with Mexico a "sieve."
Trump said there are as many as 35 million illegal immigrants in the United States, contradicting experts who say the number is far lower.
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Incoming Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans to introduce a bill to reopen the government when the Democrats take control of Congress Thursday
The legislation would fund all agencies through September and the Department of Homeland Security through February. It would not include money for a border wall. But by temporarily funding Homeland Security, it would spin off the issue from the rest of the funding dispute for separate negotiations.
The White House has called the bill a "nonstarter" and blamed Democrats for the shutdown.
McConnell won’t consider Democrat plan
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday the Senate would not consider bills Democrats plan to vote on in the House on Thursday that don't include $5 billion for Trump's border wall.
"We can go back and forth," Pelosi told NBC News. "How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall."
Pelosi accused Trump of holding the federal government hostage over his campaign promise to build the wall that Mexico would pay for.
"That is so ridiculous. A, Mexico's not paying for it. And B, we have better use of funds to protect our border. The president knows that," Pelosi said.
Trump has said without secure borders, you don't have a country and that $5 billion is very little to pay for national security.
He has also said he welcomes immigrants to the United States but said they must enter legally.
Major D.C. attractions closed
Meanwhile, Washington was full of tourists Wednesday frustrated that major attractions were closed because of the shutdown.
The Smithsonian Institution, which includes the popular Air and Space Museum and the National Zoo, are closed. The National Gallery of Art is out of money and will close Thursday.
Trash in federal parks is not being collected, and more than 800,000 federal workers are either furloughed or working for no pay.
Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware called the shutdown "senseless" and "without a purpose."
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