A day after congressional Democrats declined to meet with President Donald Trump over ending the government shutdown, at least seven House Democrats attended a White House meeting Wednesday aimed at reopening the government that has been partially closed for more than three weeks.
Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-7th district) of Virginia attended the midday White House meeting in the Situation Room along with Democratic Reps. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, Thomas Suozzi of New York, Vincente Gonzalez of Texas, Anthony Brindisi of New York, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Max Rose of New York
The lawmakers are not part of Democratic leadership, which has been leading congressional negotiations, and are rank-and-file members mostly hailing from more moderate congressional districts.
Trump is trying to get congressional Democrats to agree to as much as $5 billion in additional funding for the President’s signature campaign promise of a wall along the US border with Mexico. Democratic leaders have not budged on that issue, leading White House negotiators to try to target moderate members to put pressure on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
It’s unclear at this point if the Wednesday meeting will put daylight between the moderate members and leadership.
That group, in a statement released before the meeting, reiterated the position of Democratic leadership: that the government must be reopened before any negotiations on border security can commence.
Following the meeting, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders released a statement that did not indicate any progress had been made but said it was a “constructive meeting.”
“The President and his team had a constructive meeting with bipartisan members of the problem solvers caucus,” Sanders said. “They listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants. We look forward to more conversations like this.”
Trump had asked Democrats to attend a meeting on Tuesday, but no Democrats agreed to go. The invitations for that meeting did not all go out at once, but over the course of Monday night, and consisted of a three-line email asking only if the member would “attend lunch at the White House tomorrow, January 15 at 12:30 PM,” according to a copy read to CNN. The email was sent on behalf of the President.
“It’s kind of a mess,” one Democratic member who had received an invitation told CNN when asked their impression of how the meeting had been put together.