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Pence tested in role of messenger for Trump policies

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17.01.2019

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........

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