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House Democrats Reject White House Invitation to Shutdown Talks

President Donald Trump speaks at a ceremony honoring the Clemson Tigers at the White House in Washington, D.C., Jan 14, 2019. (Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports)

House Democrats on Tuesday rejected an invitation from the White House to continue negotiations to end the government shutdown.

Several moderate House Democrats, who were invited along with nine House Republicans to a luncheon with the president Tuesday, but none accepted the invitation, the White House said.

“Today, the president offered both Democrats and Republicans the chance to meet for lunch at the White House. Unfortunately, no Democrats will attend,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “The president looks forward to having a working lunch with House Republicans to solve the border crisis and reopen the government. It’s time for the Democrats to come to the table and make a deal.”

The nine Republican congressmen will still dine with President Trump, however, and two of them — Rodney Davis of Illinois and John Katko of New York — voted for Democratic proposals to reopen government agencies affected by the shutdown.

The White House’s invitation to rank-and-file Democrats was seen as an attempt to divide the caucus and loosen Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s grasp on her members. Although Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, who were not invited, gave party members permission to attend, none chose to do so.

“Is anybody surprised that the president’s trying to get votes wherever he can get votes?” House majority whip Steny Hoyer said. “We are totally united — totally. You will see that on the floor on these votes. We want the government open, Mr. President.”

The government shutdown, the longest in U.S. history, entered its 25th day on Tuesday. President Trump has refused to budge from his demand for $5.7 billion to construct a wall at the southern border, while Democrats have said they will approve no more than $1.6 billion for non-wall border security.

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