House defies Trump veto threat, passes funding plan without wall

The president was flanked at the briefing by Border Patrol officers who were there to advocate for Trump's demands for a wall as the partial government shutdown stretched into its 13th day.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday sent a letter to President Donald Trump inviting him to deliver the State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on January 29.

Pelosi spoke about other priorities on the Democratic agenda after her election on Thursday - describing climate change as well as income inequality as pressing problems that need to be addressed. "Two months ago, the American people spoke and demanded a new dawn".

"It is a very very great achievement", Trump said on Thursday during his first-ever appearance in the White House briefing room.

"I have never had so much support as I have in the last week over my stance for border security, for border control, and for frankly, the wall or the barrier", he said.

The White House also complained that the package of bills, which Democrats plan to force to the floor for votes later Thursday, the first night of the new Congress, includes billions of dollars in wasteful spending President Trump opposes.

WASHINGTON ― Democrats took back the House on Thursday, electing Nancy Pelosi to be speaker and quickly passing legislation to reopen closed government agencies. Many progressives worry it could halt bills on health care or other investments.

She added that it is a "privilege to serve with over 100 women members of Congress, the largest number in history". She said its mission would be "to lower health costs and prescription drug prices, and protect people with pre-existing conditions; to increase paychecks by rebuilding America with green and modern infrastructure".

The day unfolded as one of both celebration and impatience. Then they swiftly turned to the shutdown.

National Christmas Tree goes dark, Trump fumes in USA chaos
He also discussed details of when the partial shutdown really kicks in and what the pay implications are for federal employees. Building the wall was one of Trump's most frequently repeated campaign promises but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it.

Following a meeting between Trump and top congressional leaders on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the body would not take up the Democratic legislation because Trump wouldn't sign it.

That means the shutdown is sure to continue. Many rank-and-file Democrats ran on pro-impeachment platforms, but with polls indicating only a third of Americans support the idea and a two-thirds majority in the Republican-controlled Senate required to remove the president, they are unlikely to make any sudden moves. "Let's not waste the time".

While Republican women marked some firsts this past election season, like Marsha Blackburn becoming the first female Tennessee senator, the vast majority of these new lawmakers are Democrats.

Pelosi defied history in returning to the speaker's office after eight years in the minority, overcoming internal opposition from Democrats demanding a new generation of leaders. She will be the first to regain the gavel since legendary Sam Rayburn of Texas in 1955. I assume she's new.

Ahead of the final vote, Pelosi deployed her deal-making abilities to win over detractors, and by mid-December, she appeared to have secured the votes necessary to prevail after negotiating an agreement with some of the Democrats who had been lobbying to block her from the speakership.

Trump said his meeting with the union officials had always been planned and just happened to come at "a very opportune time". But more than three-quarters of the freshmen who flipped GOP-held districts voted for Pelosi on Thursday.

While the "blue wave" swept dozens of House Republicans out of Congress last November, Trump's Republicans managed to modestly expand its majority in the Senate, meaning Washington gridlock is nearly certain to deepen.

The White House has rejected the Democratic package.

Trump, whose own bid for 2020 already is underway, faces potential challenges from the ranks of Senate Democrats under Chuck Schumer. New arrivals wander the halls in a daze.

  • Sonia Alvarado