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By Melanie Arter, CNSNews, December 11, 2018
WASHINGTON, DC – (CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday threatened to shut down the federal government if he doesn’t get border security during a White House meeting with incoming House Speaker-Designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Trump argued with Pelosi and Schumer about the importance of getting funding for a border wall.
Trump said he could get funding for the border wall passed in the House quickly through just Republican votes – but it’s in the Senate that he needs cooperation from Democrats.
Schumer said the one thing they can agree on is, “we shouldn’t shut down the government over a dispute,” and he accused the president of wanting to shut it down, because he keeps talking about it.
“The last time, Chuck, you shut it down and then you opened it very quickly, and I don’t want to do what you did,” Trump said.
“No, no – 20 times. Twenty times you have called for ‘I will shut down the government if I don’t get my will.’ None of us have said it. You’ve said it,” Schumer said.
Then Trump changed course and said he would take the credit for shutting down the government if the Democrats don’t vote for border security.
“You wanna know something? I’ll take it. You know what I’ll say? Yes, if we don’t get what we want, one way or the other – whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call, I will shut down the government. Absolutely, and I am proud, and I’ll tell you what,” the president said.
“I am proud to shut down the government for border security, Chuck, because the people of this country don’t want criminals and people that have lots of problems and drugs pouring into our country. So I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down,” he said.
“I’m not blaming you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security,” Trump said.
The president also cited statistics on illegal border crossings in areas where the wall has been built.
“If you look at San Diego, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent once the wall was up. El Paso, illegal traffic dropped 72 percent then ultimately 95 percent once the wall was up. In Tucson, Arizona, illegal traffic dropped 92 percent. Yuma, it dropped – illegal traffic – 95 to 96 percent,” he said.
“I mean, when I say dropped. The only reason we even have any percentage where people got through is because they walk and go around areas that aren’t built. It dropped virtually 100 percent in the areas where the wall is, so it’s very effective,” Trump said.
The president pointed to Israel as an example of how effective a wall is in securing the country.
“If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel – 99.9 percent effective. And our wall will be every bit as good as that if not better. So we have done a lot of work on the wall. A lot of wall is built. A lot of people don’t know that. A lot of wall is renovated,” he said.
“We have walls that were in very bad condition that are now in A-1 tip top shape, and frankly, some wall has been reinforced by our military. Our military’s done a fantastic job, so the wall will get built, but we may not— we may not have an agreement today. We probably won’t, but we have an agreement on other things that are really good,” the president said.
Schumer proposed funding the government with a continuing resolution, saying it’s something both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.
“Let me say something, Mr. President. You just said, My way, or we’ll just shut down the government. We have a proposal that Democrats and Republicans will support to do a CR that will not shut down the government. We urge you to take it,” the Senate leader said.
“And if it’s not good border security, I won’t take it,” Trump said, adding that where there is a wall, border security is effective, but “where you don’t have walls, it is not effective.”
Throughout the exchange, Pelosi urged the president to continue the conversation in private so the public didn’t see their argument. Trump said it’s “transparency.”
“Let me say this. This is a most unfortunate thing. We came in here in good faith, and we’re entering into this kind of discussion in public,” Pelosi said.
“But it’s not bad, Nancy. It’s called transparency,” the president said.
“It’s not transparency when we’re not stipulating to a set of facts,” Pelosi said.
Trump said he understood why Pelosi didn’t want to discuss the issue publicly, because she’s not in a position where it’s “easy for her to talk right now.”
Pelosi took offense to that statement, saying, “Mr. President, please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting as the leader of the House Democrats who just won a big victory.”
“Elections have consequences, Mr. President,” Schumer said.
“And that’s why the country is doing so well,” Trump countered.
“What the president is representing in terms of his cards over there…we have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent, and how effective it is,” Pelosi said. “This is about the security of our country to take an oath to protect and defend, and we don’t want to have that mischaracterized by anyone.
“So let us have a conversation where we don’t have to contradict in public the statistics that you put forth, but instead can have a conversation about what will really work and what the American people deserve from us at this uncertain time in their lives,” she urged.