After a monthlong government shutdown, the clock is already ticking again for federal workers. And on Monday, both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill brushed off President Donald Trump’s recent comments doubting that a deal could be reached in time.
Over the weekend, the president said the odds of a deal being reached in time that he’d support are “less than 50-50,” essentially already pouring cold water on talks set to kick off this week in Washington between a bipartisan group of lawmakers looking to reach a deal on immigration before funding runs out again in three weeks.
“Well, of course he did,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told IJR in an interview on Monday when asked about the president doubting that a deal could be reached.
Durbin, a key member on the bipartisan conference committee now assigned with hashing out a deal to avoid another government shutdown, told IJR that he didn’t expect the president would be in a good mood about the state of negotiations given how things turned out for him the last time around.
GOP senator: “I’m more optimistic than [Trump] is.”
“We don’t expect the president to have gone through this bitter and disappointing personal experience with his shutdown and to have a positive outlook,” Durbin said. “I’m not surprised.”
Another Democrat, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), told IJR that it’s hard to keep up with Trump during ongoing negotiations because “he says everything and changes his mind all the time.”
“But we’ll just have to really see how serious [Republicans] are about it,” Klobuchar added.
The rumored 2020 presidential hopeful was asked if she’s optimistic about the three-week negotiation period.
“You have to be hopeful for the country,” Klobuchar said. “We’ve just been through hell with 800,000 workers not getting a paycheck. So you can only go up from there.”
However, Republicans on Monday appeared irked by Trump’s assessment of the early border wall talks, with many lawmakers saying they remain more “hopeful” than the president might be regarding ongoing negotiations to avoid impacting federal workers again.
“I’m more optimistic than he is,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told IJR regarding the president.
Cornyn was asked why he’s so optimistic despite the president’s stance.
“Well, I know how this place works,” he said, referring to Congress. “We deal with problems like this every day here and solve them. It’s just not often this high-profile. It’s usually everybody gets something but not everything that they want. So I’m hopeful.”
IJR asked the Texas senator, who is up for re-election in 2020, if the president’s comments doubting that Congress can land a border wall deal will help or hurt talks.
“I don’t really have a comment on that,” Cornyn said.
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the House Freedom Caucus chairman and reported “Trump whisperer,” seemed somewhat miffed by the president’s comments.
“Yeah, I saw those comments,” Meadows told IJR in an interview on Monday. “I’m more optimistic on where my Democrat colleagues would be in terms of negotiating fairly.”
Meadows added that ultimately, Democrats argued throughout the shutdown that they would come to the table and have “good faith” border security negotiations only if the president re-opened the federal government. If Democrats go back on their word, the North Carolina lawmaker said it’ll have long-term ramifications.
“We’ll know what the next two years of this Congress are gonna look like if they are willing to negotiate in good faith and find a compromise,” he said. “If not, I would say that I can’t see more than one or two significant pieces of legislation being signed into law in this Congress.
“A number of rank-and-file Democrats said that the only barrier to a compromise was an open government. We’ll see if that’s true very shortly,” Meadows added.