House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, one of President Donald Trump’s closest allies, on Wednesday described Trump’s resolve to hold out for $5 billion in border wall funding as “very firm” as the partial government shutdown entered its fifth day.
Having spoken to the President since Saturday, the North Carolina Republican described Democrats as “misreading” Trump if they thought he would compromise on funding for the wall.
“I can tell you, if they believe this President is going to yield on this particular issue, they’re misreading him, misreading the American people,” Meadows told CNN’s Manu Raju on “Inside Politics.”
Trump, speaking to reporters hours later during a trip to Iraq to visit US troops, indicated his position had not changed.
Asked how long the shutdown would last, the President responded that it would go on for “whatever it takes” for him to get wall funding.
“We need a wall,” Trump said. “So when you say how long is it going to take? When are they going to say that we need border security?”
Negotiations between congressional Democrats and the Trump administration over the President’s demands for a border wall have so far not yielded an agreement, and the shutdown will continue until at least Thursday, when the Senate returns to Washington.
Trump is demanding that the bill funding the Department of Homeland Security include $5 billion for the border wall. The House passed a bill that included the funding and declined to take up a Senate-passed plan that would have kept the government open through February 8. The Senate declined to take up the House’s bill before the shutdown. Democrats are refusing to include that much funding for the wall in the bill.
Both sides seem entrenched in their opposing stances and it’s possible parts of the government could remain closed until the new Congress is seated in the first week of January, when Democrats will take control of the House.
Further illustrating how far apart Democrats and the President are from each other, Meadows said, “I see no evidence that would suggest he would come even close to 1.3” billion dollars in spending for the wall. Meadows added, “I don’t see that as a reasonable counteroffer.”
Behind the scenes, Meadows said, Trump “was fully engaged up through the Christmas break getting on the phones with different senators and members of Congress trying to find some kind of path forward.”
In his own conversations with his Democratic colleagues, Meadows said, “Most of what we’ve faced is really a wall of sorts with the Democrats.”
CNN’s Allie Malloy and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.