Democrats plan to end shutdown without paying for president's wall
On their first day as majority leaders, the Democrats have passed a plan to end the partial US government shutdown without funding US President Donald Trump's border wall.
Mr Trump is demanding billions of dollars to build a wall along the US border with Mexico, which the Democrats have so far refused.
The disagreement has led to a partial shutdown of the federal government which started on December 22 and has so far affected 800,000 federal workers. Mr Trump has withheld his support for any new funding package until he secures $5bn to start building the wall along the border that he promised during his campaign.
Such a wall, he has argued, is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs over the border. When he ran for president in 2016, he vowed Mexico would pay for the wall, which it has refused to do.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Mr Trump and Senate Republicans should "take yes for an answer" and approve the border bill to completely end the shutdown.
When asked if she would give Mr Trump one dollar for a wall to reopen the government, Ms Pelosi said: "One dollar? Yes, one dollar. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It's not who we are as a nation."
Ms Pelosi, who was elected speaker earlier on Thursday, also took a shot at Mr Trump, calling his proposal "a wall between reality and his constituents".
The largely party-line votes came after Mr Trump made a surprise appearance at the White House briefing room pledging to keep up the fight for his signature campaign promise.
Reporters were told that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be holding a late afternoon briefing on Thursday.
Instead, out walked Mr Trump, flanked by members of the unions that represent border patrol and immigration enforcement agents.
It was his first time delivering remarks at the briefing room podium. "You can call it a barrier, you can call it whatever you want," Mr Trump said.
"But essentially we need protection in our country.
"We're going to make it good. The people of our country want it."
Mr Trump said his meeting with the union officials had long been planned and just happened to come at "a very opportune time".
He then left without taking questions from reporters.
© Independent News Service