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WASHINGTON —President Donald Trump has invited congressional leaders from both parties for another White House meeting Friday on how to end the government shutdown, which is about to enter its third week.
Talks Wednesday went nowhere after both sides dug in their heels — Trump demanding $5 billion for a southern border wall, and Democrats saying not a dime.
"We can go back and forth," Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy 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 a wall that he claimed 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.
Funding in the House
Pelosi planned to introduce two bills in the House Thursday night, one funding the entire government through September, including agencies that are now closed, and another funding the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 8. The bills would reopen the government and spin off the deadlock over border wall funding for separate negotiations.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the planned House bills "nonstarters" and "political theater."
While Trump himself has not used the word "veto," a White house official said the president told Democratic leaders he would "look foolish" if he ended the shutdown.
He is blaming Democrats for the current situation.
"The shutdown is only because of the 2020 presidential election," Trump tweeted Thursday. "The Democrats know they can't win based on all of the achievements of Trump, so they are going all out on the desperately needed wall and border security and presidential harassment. For them, strictly politics."
Trump said the country needs protection, and warned that crime, drugs and gangs were pouring into the United States from Mexico.
He also claimed there are as many as 35 million illegal immigrants in the United States, contradicting experts who say the number is far fewer.
Workers, parks suffer
Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay for two weeks.
Garbage is piling up in national parks, which are officially closed as are most of Washington's top tourist attractions.
And while the shutdown has mainly been affecting federal workers' pocketbooks, millions of Americans across the country could soon feel it, too.
Federal workers who process and mail out income tax refunds are among those furloughed.