WASHINGTON — After a working lunch with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, a handful of House Republicans scolded their Democratic colleagues for refusing to join them.
“This was about coming to the table and having a discussion and that’s what we’re asking them to do,” Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) told reporters outside the West Wing during a press availability with her colleagues. “Have a discussion, negotiate issues around border security, negotiate a way to reopen this partial shutdown of the federal government, something we don’t want at all.”
The White House invited Democrats for Tuesday afternoon’s lunch, but according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, none opted to attend.
Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) said he was surprised by the apparent snub.
“I thought I was coming to a bipartisan luncheon,” Wenstrup said. “No Democrats showed up.”
Negotiations over reopening the government have been stymied as Trump continues to call for $5.7 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a proposal Democrats have declined.
Last week, Trump abruptly walked out of a White House meeting with lawmakers after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) signaled that she will not support the barrier, even if the government is fully funded via stopgap measures.
Trump told reporters Monday that he rejects a plan floated by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue.
In her statement Tuesday, Sanders said the president is ready to offer a plan that “includes additional technology at ports of entry, allows minors from Central America to seek asylum in their home country, and physical barriers between ports of entry made of steel instead of concrete,” factors the White House has cast as concessions.
In the meantime, the partial shutdown of the federal government has entered its 25th day, hindering 25 percent of its operations and leaving 800,000 employees without immediate pay.