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Shutdown talks break down after White House meeting

President Donald Trump speaks as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, right, listens after a Senate Republican policy lunch on Capitol Hill on Jan. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Talks to end a partial government shutdown ended abruptly on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump tweeted they had been a “total waste of time.”

According to top Democrats, the president walked out of a meeting with congressional leaders after asking House Speaker Nancy Pelosi whether she would agree to fund a wall or barrier on the southern US border. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says the president walked out after Pelosi answered, “no.”

Vice President Mike Pence, speaking outside the West Wing of the White House, says Democrats were “unwilling to even negotiate” an end to the shutdown, which has been held up in the midst of a heated immigration debate. President Trump wants a budget that will include $5.7 billion in funding for a border barrier.

Schumer accused the president of having a “temper tantrum.” Pence says, “I don’t recall him ever raising his voice.”

Congressional leaders from both parties had only been at the White House a short time for the round of discussions with the president. During a visit to the Capitol earlier in the day, President Trump told reporters he would consider declaring a national emergency or an executive order “at some point” if Democratic leaders did not agree with his assessment of the dangers posed at the border.

In an address that was televised nationally, President Trump told the American people a border barrier is needed to resolve what he calls a security and humanitarian “crisis.” He met with congressional Republicans earlier Wednesday before heading back to the White House for the bipartisan meeting.

The partial shutdown, now in its 19th day, is the second longest ever in US history.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador declined to issue any statements on the debate, saying, “We are not going to respond to situations arising from internal affairs in the United States.”