White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump is doing everything he can to “minimize” the impact of the partial government shutdown.
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“The president doesn’t want the government shut down – he wants the government to open but he also wants it to do its job,” Sanders told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Wednesday. “And one of the fundamental goals that the federal government has and the president in particular is to protect the people of this country.”
The shutdown is in its third week and has impacted thousands of federal workers across the United States who are furloughed or working without pay.
During a national address on Tuesday evening, Trump told Americans that the conflict at the southern border is a “crisis of heart and the crisis of the soul,” and demanded more than $5 billion in wall funding, which Democratic congressional leaders have rejected.
“Every day Customs and Border Patrol agents encounter thousands of illegal immigrants trying to enter our country. We are out of space to hold them and we have no way to promptly return them back home to their country,” Trump said during a televised speech from the Oval Office on Tuesday. “The federal government remains shut down for one reason and one reason only – because Democrats will not fund border security.”
In response, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., doubled down on their calls to end the shutdown and said they would discuss the border issue after Trump ends the shutdown.
“The president has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts,” Pelosi said. “The fact is President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation – many of them veterans.”
“Most presidents have used Oval Office addresses for noble purposes. This president just used the backdrop of the Oval Office to manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration,” Schumer added. “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”
But according to Sanders, Trump has already demonstrated his willingness to work with Democrats who have refused to work with him on any level.
“They said they didn’t want a concrete wall, he said ‘fine we’ll make it a steel barrier,’” she said. They asked for specific types of technology at ports of entry. We included that in the proposal that we sent to Democrats which we still haven’t heard back from them on.”
Trump plans to meet with top Democrats on Wednesday to work on a solution.