Signs of GOP unease over shutdown ahead of White House talks

Trump digs in on Day 12 of shutdown, calling a border wall timeless, not antiquated -- like the wheel

The new Congress is like none other. "I could never have dreamed that 23 years later I would return to the same airport with my daughter Ilhan by my side, the day before she is to be sworn in as the first Somali American elected to the United States Congress".

The House of Representatives first voted on Thursday to approve a stopgap spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security that would not allocate any new wall funding, in a rebuke to the President.

No one budged at President Donald Trump's closed-door meeting with congressional leaders Wednesday, so the partial government shutdown persisted through Day 12 over his demand for billions of dollars to build a wall along the USA border with Mexico. "Why doesn't the Pelosi bill do that?" said White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

Cooper replied that she was proposing a "radical agenda". Newly elected lawmakers arrived, often with friends and families in tow, to take the oath of office and pose for ceremonial photos.

Mr Trump has demanded that Congress approve $5.6 billion for construction of a wall on the southern U.S. border with Mexico - an oft repeated pledge from his 2016 presidential campaign. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is already saying he won't take up the House funding proposal to open the government without border wall funding - even though it will be identical to the bill he himself shepherded through the Senate on voice vote two week ago.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said there's no need to prolong the shutdown and he was disappointed the talks did not produce a resolution.

Democratic Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, speaking to reporters late on Thursday, argued that funding a border wall, which ultimately could cost more than US$24 billion (18.9 billion pounds), would hamper other, more important national security protections. Battle lines are drawn not just between Democrats and Republicans but within the parties themselves, splintered by their left and right flanks.

Pelosi began her campaign to regain the speaker's job, which she held from 2007 until 2011, immediately after the election. She will be the first to regain the gavel since legendary Sam Rayburn of Texas in 1955.

"I want Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to give me dance lessons", Star Trek actor George Takei tweeted, while actor Russell Crowe declared her "fantastic". He called her leadership "unparalleled in modern American history".

After a historic opening session of the 116th Congress, in which Ms Pelosi was elected as speaker for the second time in her storied career, lawmakers took aim at a bipartisan priority of ending an embarrassing partial government shutdown that was stretching into its 13th day.

That she is the new speaker in the #MeToo era - and the opponent-in-chief to a brash president accused by multiple women of abuse or harassment over the years - reflects the increasing influence of women on the nation's political process.

Democrats have said they would want to hear any offer directly from the president.

"If they knew they couldn't come through, they wouldn't even start", he said at the meeting, joined by Cabinet secretaries and top advisers, including Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

In her reprised role, she will have to thread a political needle, standing up to Trump when needed but also showing that her party is capable of working with the president to pass legislation. He faced six "no" votes from his now-shrunken GOP minority.

One seat in the 435-member House remains in dispute two months after the election.

Trump, whose own bid for 2020 already is underway, faces potential challenges from the ranks of Senate Democrats under Chuck Schumer.

"Without a wall, you can not have border security", Mr. Trump said.

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