There May Be Some Progress Toward Resolving Partial Government Shutdown

Jan 24, 2019
Originally published on January 24, 2019 7:37 pm
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

We're going to bring in now NPR's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe, and she is going to give us the update on what's happening now. Ayesha, what have you learned from the White House point of view tonight?

AYESHA RASCOE, BYLINE: So the White House is kind of responding to these talks between McConnell and Schumer meeting to kind of break this stalemate. So Trump was asked about their talks, and this is what he had to say.

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: One of the ideas suggested is they open it and they pay a sort of a pro-rated down payment for the wall.

CORNISH: OK. That idea, pro-rated, what does that mean?

RASCOE: It's not really clear what he meant by pro-rated. So you have the White House saying they would be open to this three-week, short-term spending bill to open the government, but that they would need, they said, a large down payment on the wall. Now President Trump is saying that could be a pro-rated down payment on the wall. It's not really clear what that means. But the bottom line is, there has to be some wall funding for this to go forward with the president's support.

So there has been some movement here from the White House because in the past, the White House had said they would not support a short-term spending bill. They wanted a long-term deal and not to just kind of kick the can down the road a few weeks. So they seem to be at least willing to kind of consider reopening the government, but they still say these are their demands that have to be met.

CORNISH: OK. Seems to be willing to consider, right? (Laughter) There's a lot of qualifiers there. Does this mean they see a viable path forward?

RASCOE: It's not clear whether there is a path forward here. It doesn't seem like both sides are really there yet when it comes to a compromise. In some ways, the situation seems to be where it has been for the past few weeks. You have the White House still asking for wall money. And Speaker Nancy Pelosi responded to Trump's comments, and basically she said it is not reasonable to include money for a wall in a deal to reopen the government. So she's still taking that position, and the Democrats have made clear they're not providing that funding.

So but I guess at least you have the two sides talking to each other. And there does seem to be some pressure building, now that you had those two bills fail in the Senate, and that perhaps there could be some middle ground here where the government would be reopened for a short amount of time, three weeks, and while some type of compromise is worked out.

CORNISH: Were the Senate votes driving this thaw?

RASCOE: It seems like it. The president is saying that Republicans are really standing together in the Senate, and he kind of held out the vote for his plan as an example of them, of Republicans standing strong. The problem is the president's plan got fewer votes than the Democrats' plan. And more Democrats - I mean more Republicans broke ranks to vote for the Democrats' plan than the opposite. So this was not really a victory for the White House, and it does make it harder for them to argue that they have the support they need to keep the government closed until they get a wall.

And then in addition to all of that, you have all of these polls coming out basically showing that President Trump's approval is falling and that the public is blaming him for this shutdown. And they're also saying, the public is saying, that a shutdown is not worth - a wall is not worth a government shutdown.

CORNISH: That's NPR's White House reporter Ayesha Rascoe. Ayesha, thank you for your reporting.

RASCOE: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.