ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
58°
Clear
H 62° L 42°
  • cloudy-day
    58°
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    54°
    Evening
    Clear. H 62° L 42°
  • clear-night
    43°
    Morning
    Clear. H 67° L 48°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

National Govt & Politics
Pence's pickle: How to bargain when no one speaks for Trump
Close

Pence's pickle: How to bargain when no one speaks for Trump

Pence's pickle: How to bargain when no one speaks for Trump
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
In this Jan. 11, 2019, photo, Vice President Mike Pence speaks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees at their headquarters in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Pence's pickle: How to bargain when no one speaks for Trump

Progress made, said one.

Not so, said the other.

We'll meet again, said one.

Waste of time, said the other.

Such has been the life lately of Mike Pence, the loyal soldier dispatched by President Donald Trump to lead negotiations over the partial government shutdown .

The vice president has been one of the administration's most visible emissaries during the shutdown fight, meeting with lawmakers, sitting for interviews and leading staff-level talks. But he's been repeatedly — and very publicly — undermined and contradicted by his boss, who's demanding billions from Congress to build a wall along the southern border.

Lawmakers and aides in both parties say it's become increasingly clear that, in this White House, no one speaks for the president but himself, leaving Pence in an all-but-impossible position as he tries to negotiate on Trump's behalf.

"He doesn't really have the authority to make a deal," said Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, who worked alongside Pence back when Pence was a member of Congress. He said legislators respect the vice president even if he is just "the messenger." But he adds: "Trump is the one who's going to say 'yes' or 'no.'"

Even before the shutdown began, Pence was in an awkward spot in the wall debate — quite literally. When Trump hosted then-incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer at a heated Oval Office meeting in December that ended with the president saying he'd be "proud" to own a government shutdown, a stone-faced Pence sat by, speechless in his chair, drawing quips on social media comparing him to a statue or the "Elf on the Shelf."

Trump later sent Pence to lead a weekend of budget talks with staff for Republican and Democratic congressional leaders, an effort that Democrats dismissed as little more than a public-relations effort by the White House to give the impression it was working to end the impasse. Some also saw Pence's meetings with legislative staffers as unbefitting of his title.

When the first negotiation session ended that Saturday, Pence tweeted: "Productive discussion."

An hour later, Trump countered: "Not much headway made."

The next morning, as Pence was set to return to the negotiating table, Trump again threw cold water on the effort.

"I don't expect to have anything happen at that meeting ... nor does the vice president," Trump told reporters. "Ultimately, it's going to be solved by the principals."

Allies of the vice president minimized the significance of the comments and the White House denied any friction.

"The vice president has been very effective in communicating on behalf of the administration," said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "He has been in lock step with the president throughout the entire process."

Pence, too, rejected the idea that he'd been undermined by the president or had difficulty building trust on Capitol Hill because of Trump's tendency to change his mind.

He described to reporters an offer he brought to Schumer from the president on the Saturday before Christmas to try to cut a deal.

"I didn't have any impression that whole week that they doubted that it was a legitimate offer," said Pence. He would not confirm the details, but it was understood to have lowered the president's demand for $5.7 billion to build the wall to $2.5 billion.

Democrats panned the offer.

Days later, Trump rejected it, too,

"No, not 2.5," Trump told reporters. "We're asking for 5.6. And, you know, somebody said 2.5. No."

With negotiations now at a standstill, Pence has been a frequent visitor to the Capitol, focused on trying to keep jittery Republicans from breaking with Trump.

The vice president is well known in Congress, having climbed the ladder as the leader of a conservative faction to serve as chairman of the House GOP conference before running for governor of Indiana. That background was among the reasons Trump, who arrived in Washington with no government experience, chose Pence as his running mate.

Marc Lotter, a former Pence spokesman who remains an outside adviser, said Pence "often gets called in if we're getting close to the finish line to see if we can bring in a couple of last votes" or hold onto those who may be wavering. He recalled Pence, during a health care fight, "working back and forth, taking ideas and trying to find areas where there could be agreement, looking for areas where there could be compromise."

While Pence lacks the personal relationships with Schumer and Pelosi that some of his predecessors had with opposition leaders— notably Vice President Joe Biden's relationship with Senate Republicans — Lotter said Pence meets regularly with members of both parties and both chambers, hosting lawmakers at his residence for regular dinners.

Marc Short, the former White House director of legislative affairs who previously served as Pence's chief of staff, said the vice president's measured manner has been a "complement" to Trump's very different style.

He pointed to efforts during the "Obamacare" repeal effort to sway Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, known for taking her time to weigh decisions. Pence worked patiently to answer her questions.

Indeed, "listener" was a word that came up often when lawmakers were asked to describe Pence.

"He's a good listener," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. "Which is a rare quality around here."

"He tells us exactly what he thinks," said Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. "He's a good listener. He takes our messages back to the president."

But Simpson questioned whether that's what is needed.

Pence, said the Idaho Republican, is "a relayer. We need to have a negotiator ... someone who has the authority to go in and negotiate. And then someone who has the ability to go to Trump and say this is the best we can do."

___

For AP's complete coverage of the U.S. government shutdown: https://apnews.com/GovernmentShutdown

Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj

Read More

The Latest News Headlines

  • Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday asked President Donald Trump to delay the State of the Union address because of the ongoing partial government shutdown. >> Read more trending news Pelosi, in a letter to Trump, said 'Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29.” >> Government shutdown: Pelosi asks Trump to postpone State of the Union address  While Pelosi’s letter was a suggestion to delay the speech or for Trump to submit it in writing, she stopped short of disinviting the president to give the speech in the well of the House chamber, as has been the tradition. >> State of the Union 2019: What day, what time, who will be there? Can Pelosi disinvite Trump? Here is how the process of inviting a president happens: The invitation to address a joint session of Congress is technically a House resolution that sets aside a day and time for the president to come to the Capitol and address a joint session of Congress. >> From Cox Media Group’s Jamie Dupree: Coast Guard misses paychecks as partial shutdown reaches Day 25 A joint session of Congress means both the members of the House of Representatives and the members of the Senate are together in one chamber to hear a speaker. Because the speech involves a joint session, both the House and the Senate must pass resolutions to OK the joint session. The passing of the resolutions, in essence, constitutes an invitation from both the speaker of the House and the Senate majority leader for the president to appear before both chambers of Congress. So far, neither the House nor the Senate has passed such a resolution that invites the president to give the State of the Union address on Jan. 29. Can Pelosi keep Trump from delivering the address? Yes, she can in that she controls when a vote comes to the House floor. Pelosi could hold back the vote on the resolution to create a day and time for the president to speak, and prevent him from addressing House members. Doesn’t the president have to give the speech? There is no Constitutional requirement that a president delivers a State of the Union address in public. Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution requires only that the president periodically 'give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Until 1913, presidents submitted reports to Congress. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson broke with that tradition and began giving a public address. Since then, the address has been a yearly occurrence, usually in January, that is given before a joint session of Congress and is televised. Pelosi suggested in her letter that Trump submit the address in writing to the House.  
  • Three people are dead in Washington state in what investigators are calling a murder-suicide. >> Read more news stories Update 1:30 p.m. EST Jan. 16: The bodies of a couple and their adult son were found Tuesday during a welfare check at the couple’s home in Sammamish. Police said the deaths were the result of a murder-suicide, but they stopped short of saying who was responsible. >> See the latest on KIRO7.com Authorities said the victims died of gunshot wounds and that a weapon was recovered inside the house. Neighbors told KIRO-TV that the couple’s adult son lived in the home with them and that he worked at Microsfot. Friends and neighbors identified the female victim as Lorraine Ficken, 68. She was a realtor for Coldwell Banker Bain who was well-liked by n “She was the sweetest woman in the world. Just so sweet,” neighbor Jennifer Eiken said. “She would do anything for you. Anytime I would go outside we would have a conversation, you know, for a long time. Just a really nice, nice person.” Lorraine Ficken’s husband, 72-year-old Robert E. Ficken, was the acclaimed author of several books on the history of Washington State. Their son, 34-year-old Matt Ficken, was a longtime software engineer. “(He) was very kind of reclusive,” Eiken said. “I knew he had a great job working for Microsoft. He worked from home.” Relatives in Oregon called Sammamish police after the family's phones went unanswered for several days. The King County Sheriff’s Office said there were no recent calls to police from the home before Tuesday. “We checked the records,” Sgt. Ryan Abbott said. “(Deputies) haven’t been here any time, at least recently, that we found, and aid hadn’t been here, either.” Original report: According to Seattle's KIRO-TV, two men and a woman were found dead from gunshot wounds in a Sammamish home during a welfare check Tuesday. The King County Sheriff's Office described the woman and one of the men as 'elderly,' while the other man appeared to be in his 30s. Authorities do not believe there are any suspects outstanding.  The house is located in the 23900 block of SE 42nd Place. The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced Tuesday that she plans to run for president in the 2020 race for the White House. >> Read more trending news The New York Democrat said in an appearance Tuesday on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that she was filing the paperwork necessary to launch an exploratory committee, which would enable her to raise money for a White House run. “I'm going to run as president of the United States because, as a young mom, I'm going to fight for other people's kids as hard as I would fight for my own,” she said Tuesday. Here are some things to know about Gillibrand: Gillibrand was born Dec. 9, 1966, in Albany, New York. She attended the Academy of Holy Names, an all-girls Catholic school in Albany, before graduating in 1984 from the Emma Willard School in Troy, New York. She graduated from Dartmouth College magna cum laude in 1988 and earned her law degree from the UCLA School of Law in 1991. She worked as an attorney for more than a decade before being elected to represented New York in the U.S. House of Representatives. She represented the state's 20th congressional district in the House until 2009. After President Barack Obama was elected to office in 2008, he chose former first lady Hillary Clinton, who at the time represent New York in the U.S. Senate, to serve as his secretary of state. Gillibrand was chosen to replace Clinton, The New York Times reported. She went on to win the seat when voters went to the polls in 2010. Gillibrand has butted heads with President Donald Trump before over allegations of sexual assault, which Trump has denied. In December 2017, Trump took to social media to call Gillibrand 'a total flunky' who 'would do anything' for campaign contributions. Gillibrand criticized the president's response, calling it 'a sexist smear.' Gillibrand lives in Brunswick, New York, with her husband of 18 years, Jonathan Gillibrand, and their sons, Theodore, 15 and Henry, 10.
  • The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is welcoming back K9 Officer Jeremy Mason, nearly 18 months after he was shot in the face while chasing a robbery and carjacking suspect. The shooting happened in July 2017, when police were called to 103rd Street and Old Middleburg Road, after community tips led them to believe a bank robbery suspect was in that area. Police say that suspect- since identified as 28-year-old Michael Harris- carjacked and kidnapped a woman there by getting in her car and forcing her to drive off. JSO says Mason was shot in the ensuing chase, but continued to pursue the suspect. The suspect vehicle got in a crash with a civilian car, and Mason and a detective ultimately fatally shot Harris when he refused to disarm, according to police. Mason has undergone 12 surgeries through his recovery, according to JSO. Today marks the first day back on the job for Mason and K9 Echo.
  • With a partial government shutdown showing no signs of being resolved, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday basically ‘disinvited’ President Donald Trump from a scheduled January 29 State of the Union Address, saying that the Secret Service and Homeland Security Department should not be tasked with such a major event while they are in a shutdown status. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened,” Pelosi wrote in a letter sent to the President on Wednesday morning. There was no immediate reaction from the White House or the President. The President gives the State of the Union at the invitation of the Congress, as the House and Senate must agree to use the House chamber for such an event. The reaction in Congress split down party lines. “It is very ironic that Democrats reference security concerns in their latest grandstanding tactic, delaying the State of the Union, but will not address the security concerns that are creating a humanitarian crisis at the border,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN). “We know the state of our union,” said Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), as Democrats said there should be no speech from the President while the partial shutdown continues. In an interview with NBC News, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the President had been “disinvited” by Pelosi.

The Latest News Videos