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Shutdown talks to continue after president, congressional leaders fail to reach a deal

President Trump called a Friday meeting with congressional leaders "productive," but it doesn't seem to have moved the government shutdown closer to a conclusion. The president also said he might declare a national emergency to build a border wall if Congress won't provide the funding he seeks. Meanwhile, Americans feel the shutdown's painful impact. Judy Woodruff talks to Lisa Desjardins.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Two full weeks and counting, and there is still no sign that the partial government shutdown will end soon.

    The president and House and Senate leaders did talk again today, but they didn't appear even to agree on how the meeting went.

    Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Day 14 of the government shutdown.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.:

    We just completed a lengthy and sometimes contentious conversation with the president.

  • Donald Trump:

    We had a very, very productive meeting.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Another meeting at the White House.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:

    We told the president we need the government open. He resisted. In fact, he said he'd keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.

  • Donald Trump:

    Absolutely, I said that. I don't think it will, but I am prepared. And I think I can speak for Republicans in the House and Republicans in the Senate. They feel very strongly about having a safe country, having a border that makes sense.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And another impasse.

  • Donald Trump:

    No, we won't be opening until it's solved. We think this is a much bigger problem. The border is a much more dangerous problem.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    In the Rose Garden after the meeting, the president said he wants active negotiations over the weekend. Trump says he now wants $5.6 billion for a border wall. Democrats say they will not fund a wall at all.

    Instead, House Democrats last night passed spending bills that would reopen most of the closed government agencies permanently, and fund the Department of Homeland Security for a month.

  • Woman:

    The bill is passed.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    An idea the president today made clear he opposes.

    Can you explain to federal employees of the agencies that are closed, which are not Homeland Security, why those agencies should stay closed? Homeland Security is significant, in and of itself, if it stayed closed.

  • Donald Trump:

    Because we want to do what's right, and we want to do it all at one time. We don't want to take it in pieces. We just don't want to do that.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The president also said he is considering calling a national emergency to build the wall, if Congress doesn't fund it.

  • Donald Trump:

    Yes, I have. And I can do it if I want.

  • Question:

    So, you don't need congressional approval to build the wall?

  • Donald Trump:

    No, we can use a — absolutely, we can call a national emergency cause because of the security of our country.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    This as the effects of the shutdown are felt outside of Washington, D.C., like in Joshua Tree, California, where a group of volunteers are cleaning up trash at the national park.

  • John Lauretig:

    We knew we had to do something with the government shutdown. So, we got together right away and started to get folks up there and take care of the bathrooms and things like that. So, we have been dubbed the toilet paper angels.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Meanwhile, some 800,000 federal workers are furloughed or working without pay. The president was asked about workers who may be having trouble paying their rent.

  • Donald Trump:

    When you see their problems out there, difficulties out there, you know, the people are all good for the money. They work with people.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Meanwhile, the 160 and Congress has gone home for what will be the third weekend of this shutdown.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And Lisa joins me now.

    Lisa, you're just getting off the phone, I know, with somebody. You're still reporting on this right up to the last minute.

    So, one side says there was progress. That's the White House. The other side said there wasn't. What's going on?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It doesn't feel like there was significant progress today, Judy.

    What I'm told from sources, both Republican and Democratic, is what happened is this, that in that meeting the president raised the idea of continuing staff level talks, let's keep talking over the weekend.

    I'm told he didn't specifically mention the idea of a kind of task force, which he brought up in this news conference. He, in fact, said he's appointed Vice President Pence and two others to lead this task force. And he's asked for appointees from other leaders.

    The leaders' offices said this was news to them, and they hadn't known that this was something that president was going to do. So, instead, where we are right now, whether this task force happens in the future or not, Judy, is staff are talking over the weekend. Leaders are going back to their corners.

    And those staff talks have continued for the past couple days. So that's not really a change. In terms of where the negotiating points are, the president did firmly say today where he stands, which is something we don't always hear from him. He said he wants $5.6 billion for a wall or steel fence.

    Same with Speaker Pelosi. She was also firm. She said they will not fund a wall.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And that's despite the White House saying in the past they were willing to go with a lower number.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's correct.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    But let's talk about the president's reasoning here. He did talk a lot about this wall during the campaign. What is driving his determination, saying it's got to be a wall, or else?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It really struck me today that we did hear more from the president on that in his Rose Garden news conference.

    He specifically mentioned two things. One, he mentioned a concern for a number of vehicles crossing the border where there is no fence or wall. Now, we have spent the last couple of hours since that news conference trying to research if there's statistics on this, where this concern is coming from, how big is this concern, and we have not been able to find anything that helps inform this.

    And we have also asked the White House to give us their research. And I think there just hasn't been enough time to verify or understand the context here. But he said that is something on his mind.

    The second thing he brought up was, in fact, the terror — the concern of terrorists crossing the border. And he referred that question to Secretary Nielsen. She said that — to talk — we heard this concern a lot, terrorists are crossing the border, but we never know exactly what they're speaking about.

    We got specifics today. Secretary Nielsen said Customs and Border Patrol has stopped over 3,000 people which we call special interest aliens. She went on to say, those are aliens who the intelligence can has identified as a concern because of either travel patterns that they have that have identified them as terrorists travel patterns, or these are people that have known ties to terrorism, 3,000 people crossing the border.

    When you compare that to the number of everyone who was stopped across the border, Judy, that's 1 percent. But that 1 percent is a concern that is driving President Trump to ask for a wall.

  • Judy Woodruff:


    So, meantime, let's talk about — again, about the practical effect. There are real people, government employees, who are affected by this government shutdown.

    You have been looking into how their lives are changing as a result.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Our team, our producers have been talking to dozens and dozens of people. And, first, let's talk with a federal employee.

    We have asked some people to send in videos of their own stories. This is a woman of — a teacher whose husband is a federal prison guard in New Jersey. Let's hear how she says she's being impacted.

  • Carrie Sinone:

    We have to rework the budget. We have to rework due dates. We have got to negotiate with companies. We have to swallow that pride and ask for extensions and ask for a little bit of understanding, knowing full well we're going to be charged extra interest.

    We're going to be charged finance charges, which we're not going to be reimbursed for and we don't budget for monthly, because we do pay our bills on time normally. We have had to tell our children that we need to cut back on some things. Indoor soccer not happening this year.

    You know, they see us stressed. And it's not fair and it's not good on them either. It stinks, and it needs to stop.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    So it's kind of typical. You don't see people's mortgages affected quite yet.

    We have another example of a couple from Falls Church, both federal workers. They have two children who are special needs and are in therapy, and they're skipping therapy next week, for example, because they're worried about their salary loss because of the shutdown.

    They have also been talking to school loan, car loan people to say, hey, we may not make the next payment.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And, finally, speaking of salaries, the president was asked today about the fact that top government employees, White House officials are going to be getting paid raises while all this is going on.

    How did he deal with that?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The president seemed unaware of that fact.

    But he said he would consider asking Cabinet members to forgo those pay raises. Vice President Pence, when asked himself, said he would forego that pay raise. And, of course, members of Congress, Judy, also are being paid during the shutdown.

    And there are only a handful so far who have said they will donate their salaries to charity. They can't forego it because it's automatic for them. But they can donate it. And only a few have said that they would so far.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    I know you're going to keep watching it over the weekend.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    We will.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Lisa, thank you.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    You're welcome.

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