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Wednesday March 20th, 2019 1:54PM

The Latest: Trump, Pence to meet with GOP senators Wednesday

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and the partial government shutdown (all times local):

6 p.m.

The White House says President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will meet with Republican senators at the Capitol on Wednesday as the partial government shutdown continues.

The meeting is taking place as Trump tries to generate public support for border wall money before ending the shutdown. He'll address the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, and has planned a trip to the U.S.-Mexico border two days later.

House Democrats have passed a plan to re-open the government without funding Trump's promised border wall, but the Republican-led Senate has so far declined to take it up.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won't take up funding bills without Trump's support.

The vice president is increasingly being called upon to prevent GOP defections.

__

3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump hosted cable and broadcast television news representatives at an off-the-record lunch hours before he's set to deliver a prime-time speech outlining what he sees as a "crisis" on the southern border.

Top news personalities including CNN's Chris Cuomo, Fox News Channel's Bret Baier and ABC's George Stephanopoulos attended the Tuesday lunch, which lasted about an hour and 20 minutes.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway says the group had a "robust exchange" and "questions were asked and answered."

Baier said on air that attendees agreed to quote only one line from the president: "It was wonderful having lunch with you today."

But he said that the White House believes the wall is a winning issue for Trump, whose refusal to sign a budget without billions for the border has forced a partial government shutdown.

___

11:05 a.m.

The No. 2 House Democrat is blaming President Donald Trump for the partial government shutdown and says Trump is holding the government "hostage." Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer says Tuesday that "in another context, we would call that an act of kidnapping or terrorism."

Hoyer says it would be akin to an imposition of martial law if Trump declares a national emergency in order to unilaterally build a Southwest border wall. He says Trump doesn't have that authority and doing that "certainly could" be an abuse of power.

Hoyer compares it to other governments "declaring martial law and justifying them in doing whatever they want to do."

Democrats are refusing to give Trump $5.7 billion to build the wall. The impasse has led to a partial government shutdown, now in its third week.

___

10:55 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will give the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's remarks to the nation Tuesday on his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

An impasse over wall funding has led to a partial government shutdown, now in its third week.

Pelosi and Schumer have flatly refused to pay for the wall. They said Tuesday they will deliver their response to Trump after his address at 9 p.m. EST.

Trump says there is a security crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border that can be addressed only by spending $5.7 billion on a wall as a way to prevent people from crossing into the U.S. illegally.

___

10:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says President Donald Trump's recent claim that his predecessors endorsed his idea of a U.S.-Mexico border wall was an "impression."

Trump said Friday that some previous presidents "have told me that we should have done it."

The four living ex-presidents do not back Trump up on that claim. Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said they had not discussed the wall with Trump. Barack Obama's office reiterated his opposition to the wall.

Pence told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday, "I know the president has said that was his impression from previous presidents."

Pence says he's seen "clips of previous presidents talking about the importance of border security and the importance of addressing illegal immigration."

Trump is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday night and lay out his case for the wall, which Democrats oppose. The government is in its third week of a partial shutdown over wall funding.

___

10:05 a.m.

Leaders of the bipartisan National Governors Association are urging President Donald Trump and congressional leaders to end the partial government shutdown, telling them "a federal government shutdown should not be a negotiating tactic as disagreements are resolved."

The group's chairman, Montana Democrat Steve Bullock, and vice chairman, Maryland Republican Larry Hogan, sent the letter on Monday.

The message was made public Tuesday, the 18th day of the shutdown, as Trump prepared to make his case in a prime-time speech that there's a U.S.-Mexico border crisis that must be addressed. Trump wants billions of dollars to fund a border wall, which congressional Democrats oppose.

The governors say federal workers are being hurt and state business is being affected by shutdowns of federal departments and agencies. They warn shorelines are at risk with reduced Coast Guard capabilities.

___

12:05 a.m.

With no breakthrough in sight, President Donald Trump is set to argue in a prime-time address that a "crisis" at the U.S.-Mexico border requires the wall he's demanding before ending the partial government shutdown.

Trump's speech on Tuesday night will be followed by his visit Thursday to the southern border. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted that he will use the visit to "meet with those on the front lines of the national security and humanitarian crisis."

The administration is also at least talking about declaring a national emergency to allow Trump to move forward on the wall without Congress approving the $5.6 billion he wants.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of federal workers face missed paychecks Friday as the shutdown drags through a third week.

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