Talks resume as US government shutdown continues

White House officials and congressional staffers will continue negotiations Saturday over the government shutdown, even after President Donald Trump declared he could keep it going for "months or even years."

President Trump doubled down on his demand for border wall funding Saturday morning ahead of a meeting with congressional leaders to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown.

“The Democrats could solve the Shutdown problem in a very short period of time," Trump tweeted early Saturday.

"All they have to do is approve REAL Border Security (including a Wall), something which everyone, other than drug dealers, human traffickers and criminals, want very badly! This would be so easy to do!” he added.

The government entered a partial shutdown on Dec. 22, closing 25 percent of the government and leaving hundreds of thousands of workers furloughed or forced to work without pay. The shutdown began amid an impasse between the White House and lawmakers over Trump's demand for billions of dollars in border wall funding.

Trump dug in on Friday on his demand for $5.6 billion to fund his proposed U.S.–Mexico border wall as part of any deal to end the shutdown. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have both said they would not agree to allocate any additional funds for the wall.

Trump also threatened to keep 25 percent of the government shut down for years until he gets his desired funding to build the border wall. He later said he “may” declare a national emergency to build the wall.

Trump's comments came after he held a closed-door meeting with congressional leaders. Pelosi called the sit-down “contentious.” Trump later called the meeting “productive” and said he appointed a working group of top administration officials to continue talks with lawmakers through the weekend.

The shutdown, which entered its 15th day on Saturday, could significantly reduce food stamps for nearly 40 million Americans and freeze or delay more than $140 billion in tax refunds.

The House passed spending bills this week to reopen the government without border wall funding, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has refused to bring the House-passed measure to the floor for a vote, citing a veto threat from the White House.