WASHINGTON — As a partial government shutdown entered its third week, negotiations between Vice President Mike Pence and congressional aides from both parties yielded little progress on Saturday while the impact on government services and on federal workers was worsening by the day.
“Not much headway made today,” President Trump conceded on Twitter, not long after the vice president’s office characterized the roughly two-hour talks, held next to the White House at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, as “productive.”
V.P. Mike Pence and team just left the White House. Briefed me on their meeting with the Schumer/Pelosi representatives. Not much headway made today. Second meeting set for tomorrow. After so many decades, must finally and permanently fix the problems on the Southern Border!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2019
The two sides are scheduled to meet again Sunday afternoon, but there was little hope that the broad divide between Mr. Trump and Democrats over his demand for more than $5 billion for a border wall would be bridged anytime soon. Saturday’s talks came a day after Mr. Trump said the government shutdown could continue for “months or even years” if Democrats did not relent on their steadfast refusal to grant him the wall money.
The negotiations on Saturday focused on priorities for security rather than a dollar figure for the border wall, the vice president’s office said. While Mr. Trump has stood by his $5.7 billion demand, Senate Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for border security, including fencing, while Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York, have repeatedly said that they will not agree to any wall funding. Ms. Pelosi has called a border wall an “immorality.”
The vice president’s office said that Mr. Pence had reiterated the president’s position that any deal needed to include funding for the wall. The office also said that Democrats had requested additional information from the Department of Homeland Security about its needs to deal with border issues.
Democratic staff members asked for a formal budget justification for the administration’s insistence on its $5.7 billion proposal, a Democratic official familiar with the discussion said, adding that Mr. Pence made clear that the White House would not budge from that figure. The Democrats told the vice president that there would be no movement on the dollar figure until after the government is reopened.
It is unclear just what kind of authority Mr. Trump has granted Mr. Pence to speak for him in negotiations. Last month, when Mr. Pence made a $2.6 billion counteroffer to Democrats in an effort to avert the shutdown, Mr. Trump quickly shot down the proposal.
During the talks on Saturday, Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, offered a briefing on what the administration has deemed a “crisis” at the border. Ms. Neilsen had tried to give a similar briefing earlier in the week to congressional leaders and White House officials gathered in the Situation Room, but she was cut off by Ms. Pelosi, who questioned Ms. Nielsen’s facts.
In addition to Ms. Nielsen, the vice president was joined on Saturday by Mick Mulvaney, the acting chief of staff, and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump. Mr. Kushner is said to have raised the prospect with Democratic lawmakers that if they give the president the full $5.7 billion in wall funding or something close to it, they might in exchange get an agreement for new protections for the young immigrants known as Dreamers. The prospect of such a deal has alarmed some conservatives.
On Friday, Senator Thom Tillis became the third Republican senator to call for an end to the shutdown.CreditErin Schaff for The New York Times
For his part, the president seemed to be goading Democrats with a morning tweet that implied that he was ready to talk with them at the White House, even though it was Mr. Trump who had announced on Friday that the meeting would be at the staff level.
The president also repeated his claim that the bulk of federal workers who are going without pay are Democrats — a claim rebuffed by federal union leaders — but said their political affiliation was not relevant to him. On Friday, he had said that most federal workers supported his demand for a border wall and were willing to sacrifice their paychecks to achieve it.
As the shutdown reached its 14th day, the finances of government agencies continued to show signs of strain. On Saturday, Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the agency had about one month’s funding left for some of its activities.
There have also been a few new signs of fraying political fealty to the president among Republicans. On Friday, Senator Thom Tillis, Republican of North Carolina, became the third member of his party in the Senate to call for an end to the shutdown, joining Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado and Senator Susan Collins of Maine. All three are expected to face difficult re-election battles in 2020.
In an op-ed article for the newspaper The Hill published Friday evening, Mr. Tillis encouraged Congress to strike a deal that would provide “long-term certainty to the DACA population” — the Dreamers brought to the United States as children — and “force out the extreme elements on either side of the aisle.”
“When it comes to securing our borders, it’s important to note that the real solution is not going to be a big, literal physical wall, but rather an all-the-above, all-hands-on-deck approach,” he wrote, adding his support for solutions including “physical barriers and steel fences.”
The op-ed came just a day after the campaign arm of the Senate Democrats released statements to local news media targeting Republican senators up for re-election.
In a move to keep pressure on the president and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, Ms. Pelosi announced Saturday afternoon that House Democrats would begin passing individual appropriations bills next week to reopen all government agencies, beginning with legislation that would reopen the Internal Revenue Service.
“This action is necessary so that the American people can receive their tax refunds on schedule,” Ms. Pelosi said in a statement. “The certainty of the tax returns of hard-working families should no longer be held hostage to the president.”
Mr. McConnell has largely stayed on the sidelines in the shutdown fight, saying that any solution must be reached between Mr. Trump and Democrats. In an opinion column on Friday, The Courier-Journal of Louisville, the largest newspaper in Mr. McConnell’s home state, called on him to “get into the game” and end “a crisis that really doesn’t need to be happening.”