White House officials and congressional aides are continuing talks aimed at ending a partial government shutdown that has dragged into a 15th day.
US Vice-President Mike Pence, who led the conversation, described Saturday’s session as “productive” on Twitter, although no breakthrough was reached.
The White House aides and Democrat and Republican staff plan to return to the talks on Sunday.
Productive discussion w/ Congressional leadership staff at @WhiteHouse. @SecNielsen gave a full presentation on crisis along Southern Border. We reaffirmed @POTUSâ commitment to secure the border, build the wall, keep Americans safe & reopen govât. Discussions continue tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/C7k9Sg8guY— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) January 5, 2019
Negotiations have been at an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demands for 5.6 billion US dollars (£4.4 billion) to fund a wall at the Mexican border.
A White House official said the meeting included a briefing on border security by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
Democrats restated their request to reopen the government while border security talks continue, which the White House rejected. Democrats also sought written details on Department of Homeland Security needs, which the White House said it would provide.
Mr Trump, who did not attend the discussions, spent the morning tweeting about border security.
V.P. Mike Pence and team just left the White House. Briefed me on their meeting with the Schumer/Pelosi representatives. Not much headway made today. Second meeting set for tomorrow. After so many decades, must finally and permanently fix the problems on the Southern Border!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2019
Showing little empathy for the hundreds of thousands of federal workers told to stay away from work or working without pay, Mr Trump declared – without citing evidence – that most are Democrats. He also asserted: “I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security! I am in the White House ready to go, where are the Dems?”
One Democrat, Chris Van Hollen, said in his party’s weekly radio address that the shutdown “is part of a larger pattern of a president who puts his personal whims and his effort to score political points before the needs of the American people… He is pointing fingers at everyone but himself”.
Mr Trump and Democratic leaders met for roughly two hours on Friday, but gave differing accounts of the session. Democrats reported little progress; Mr Trump framed the weekend talks as a key step forward.
In calling on Mr Trump to reopen government while negotiations on border security continue, Democrats have emphasised there are families unable to pay bills due to absent wage payments.
But the president repeatedly said he will not budge without money for the wall.
He asserted on Friday that he could declare a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval, but would first try a “negotiated process”.
He said the federal workers who have been told to stay at home or are working without pay would want him to “keep going” and fight for border security.
Asked how people would manage without a financial safety net, he said: “The safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe.”