Democrat Nancy Pelosi becomes House speaker in divided US Congress

Nancy Pelosi reacts as she is confirmed Speaker of the House during the 116th Congress and swearing-in ceremony on the floor of the US House of Representatives at the US Capitol on 3 January 2019 in Washington DC

WASHINGTON - The US House of Representatives, where Democrats now hold a majority, approved legislation on Thursday to end a partial government shutdown that began almost two weeks ago at several federal agencies and fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8.

The two-part Democratic package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through February 8, providing $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items including technology and cameras.

Vice President Mike Pence swore in newly-elected senators, but Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no plans to consider the House bills to fund the government unless Trump agrees to sign them into law.

Trump appeared at the hastily organized briefing to congratulate Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi on her election as the next House speaker and to reiterate his demand for a southern border wall.

She sent a letter to Trump hours after reaching 220 votes to become the new House Speaker, a position she also held between 2007 and 2011.

Pelosi will preside over the most diverse Congress in history. We must be pioneers of the future, she said. But that did not deter House Democrats.

The bills that passed the House contain no wall funding.

"And this is not a wall between Mexico and the United States that the President is creating here".

"You can call it a barrier, you can call it whatever you want", Trump said.

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Pelosi, elected speaker 220-192, took the gavel saying US voters "demanded a new dawn" in the November election that swept the Democrats to a House majority and are looking to "the beauty of our Constitution" to provide checks and balances on power.

She said she wants to end the shutdown but will not support the wall.

They are all but dead on arrival in the Senate, where the Republican leadership has vowed not to bring them up for a vote because they do not pass muster with the president.

The president strode into the White House briefing room on Thursday and declared that "without a wall you can not have border security".

Despite the Democrats now controlling the House, Mr Trump said he thought Republicans could still work productively with their opponents.

On Friday morning, Trump reacted to the talk of impeachment by questioning why House Democrats would do such a thing.

"We're asking the president to open up government", Ms Pelosi told the Today show before the first session of the new House. "We asked the president to support the bills that we support that will open up government", Schumer said.

As the stalemate continues, there is no end in sight to the partial shutdown, which is affecting hundreds of thousands of federal workers who have either been furloughed or have had to work without pay.

Adding to national unease about the shutdown are economic jitters as analysts warn of the risks of closures that are disrupting government operations across multiple departments and agencies at a time of other uncertainties in the stock market and foreign trade. Trump repeatedly said during his presidential campaign that Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has refused and U.S. taxpayers likely will be left footing the bill.

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