By Lalit K Jha
Washington, Jan 12 (PTI) Days after he walked out of a meeting with Congressional leaders when they shot down his border wall funding proposal, US President Donald Trump on Saturday urged the opposition Democrats to visit the White House for talks to end the government shutdown which is now in its record 22nd day.
"I am in the White House waiting for you!" Trump told the Democrats through his Twitter account and threatened that the shutdown could continue for a long time if there is no agreement.
"Democrats should come back to Washington and work to end the shutdown, while at the same time ending the horrible humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border," the president tweeted.
The partial government shutdown on Saturday entered its 22nd day, surpassing the previous record of 21 days. The longest ever shutdown has been due to the stalemate between the ruling Republicans and the Democrats on funding construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.
Trump has sought USD 5.7 billion in funding from the Congress to construct a concrete wall or a physical steel barrier so as to prevent flow of illegal immigrants and smuggling of drugs.
The opposition Democrats have said that under no circumstances can they approve such a proposal. Trump has said that in the absence of Congressional approval of his wall proposal, he will not sign any budgetary legislation.
This has resulted in a partial government shutdown wherein more 800,000 federal government employees have been left without work and have not received their salaries. Trump has promised that he will ensure that these employees get their salaries but functioning of several important wings of the US government has come to a standstill.
"We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their 'vacations' and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign!" Trump tweeted.
"I do have a plan on the shutdown. But to understand that plan you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised safety and security for the American people. Part of that promise was a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!," Trump asserted, indicating that he will not budge from his stand on the border wall.
The Democrats, he said, could solve the shutdown in 15 minutes.
"Call your Dem Senator or Congresswoman/man. Tell them to get it done! Humanitarian Crisis," he urged his 57.2 million Twitter followers.
Referring to official statistics, Trump said 23 per cent of federal prison inmates are illegal immigrants.
"Border arrests are up 240 per cent. In the Great State of Texas, between 2011 & 2018, there were a total of 292,000 crimes by illegal aliens, 539 murders, 32,000 assaults, 3,426 sexual assaults and 3,000 weapons charges. Democrats come back!" he said.
He refuted media reports that there is chaos in the White House.
"I just watched a Fake reporter from the Amazon Washington Post say the White House is 'chaotic, there does not seem to be a strategy for this Shutdown. There is no plan'. The Fakes always like talking Chaos, there is NONE. In fact, there's almost nobody in the White House but me," Trump said. PTI LKJ KUN