As the partial government shutdown enters Day 20 with no compromise in sight, President Donald Trump said on Thursday that dealing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is more frustrating that negotiating with China — a country Trump has described as America’s economic adversary.
“I find China, frankly, in many ways to be far more honorable than Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy. I really do,” Trump said. “I think that China is actually much easier to deal with than the opposition party.”
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Trump made the comments at the White House after assuring reporters he would not attend the economic conference in Davos, Switzerland, later this month if the government were still shut down. Trump said he would forgo the conference even though the U.S. has “a great story to tell,” including low unemployment and “tremendous success with China.”
Schumer and Pelosi had a dramatic meeting with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, in which neither side yielded on Trump’s demands for more than $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico. Schumer said Trump lost his temper during the meeting, pounding on the table. Trump said he kept his composure and, on hearing Democrats would not give the money for the wall, told Schumer and Pelosi, “bye-bye.”
Trump’s comparison with China comes in stark contrast to the antagonistic rhetoric he has taken with the Asian power, accusing the country of manipulating markets and stealing intellectual property. The Trump administration levied punishing tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. last summer, setting off a trade war that has caused woe among American farmers and manufacturers.
U.S. trade emissaries traveled to Beijing earlier this week to renegotiate trade terms. Both sides said several issues remain unresolved, but that they achieved considerable progress in easing trade barriers. The office of the U.S. trade representative said China vowed to purchase “a substantial amount of agricultural, energy, manufactured goods, and other products and services from the United States.”
Trump said earlier this week he and Democrats in Congress could reach an agreement in a “45-minute meeting” if they agreed to a border wall, parroting inaccurate or misleading statements as evidence of the need for a physical barrier. Some lawmakers of his own party who represent border districts decline to support the wall.
But Trump remains steadfast, potentially leading this shutdown to become the longest in U.S. history if it lasts past Saturday.
“There is no reason why we can’t come to a deal, but you have another side that doesn’t care about border security,” Trump said Thursday. “The Democrats, which I’ve been saying all along, they don’t give a damn about crime.”
Pelosi has repeatedly said “of course” the U.S. needs border security, but has called such large funds for a wall “immoral.”