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Donald Trump says little progress at shutdown talks; more on Sunday

   A delegation of top White House aides led by Vice President Mike Pence will meet again with congressional staff on Sunday after a two-and-a-half hour discussion Saturday was unable to forge a deal to end the partial government shutdown now into its third week.

The vice president described the meeting, at his ceremonial office across the street from the White House, as “productive.” But President Donald Trump took to Twitter some time later to declare that “not much headway” had been made -- a sentiment echoed by the acting White House chief of staff.

Although Trump said the meeting had been with representatives of Democratic leadership, Republican aides attended as well as all players look for a way to break the impasse over border security funding.

The gathering featured Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who provided a full briefing of what the administration contends is a crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, said one White House and two congressional aides who asked not to be identified to discuss the private meeting.

Democrats asked for a formal budget justification for the administration’s position in order to determine what the White House’s request is, said a person familiar with the discussion. Democratic aides told the White House that formal negotiations will grow increasingly hard with the government closed, but were rebuffed on a demand that the White House support reopening the government, the person said.

Concrete vs. Steel

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told NBC that Trump is willing to “take a concrete wall off the table” in negotiations with Democrats over the shutdown.

“If he has to give up a concrete wall, replace it with a steel fence in order to do that so that Democrats can say, ‘See? He’s not building a wall anymore,’ that should help us move in the right direction,” Mulvaney said in a partial transcript provided by the network. The interview that will run in full on Sunday’s “Meet the Press.”

Trump recently has tweeted that a border barrier comprised of “artistically designed steel slats” would be acceptable, and showed a prototype of a tall structure topped by sharp spikes.

Separately, Mulvaney told CNN that at Saturday’s meeting “the opening line from one of the lead Democrat negotiators was that they were not there to talk about any agreement.” Democrats, he said, were “actually, in my mind, there to stall.”
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