- The partial government shutdown extended into the new year, with no end in sight.
- President Trump has signalled he will not budge on the $US5.6 billion figure he wants to fund construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border.
- House Democrats are moving ahead with a package that would include funding for most government agencies as well as a continuing resolution for the Department of Homeland Security until February 8.
WASHINGTON – As the partial government shutdown has crossed over into the new year, both President Donald Trump and the incoming Democratic House majority are digging in their heels over resolving the lapse in appropriations.
The shutdown is days away from eclipsing the 2013 fiasco that became the longest of its kind in United States history. Now this shutdown, being fought over funding for the partial construction of a wall along the US-Mexico border, has no end in sight.
House Democrats plan to pass a package containing two bills when they officially take back the majority on Thursday, which will contain funding for six of the seven agencies still in need. But funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is at the epicentre of the wall fight, will be given a continuing resolution until February 8 under the Democrats’ package.
“It is important to note that these bills contain no new wall funding,” wrote House Speaker Designate Nancy Pelosi in a letter to colleagues Tuesday night.
“We are giving the Republicans the opportunity to take yes for an answer,” Pelosi added. “Senate Republicans have already supported this legislation, and if they reject it now, they will be fully complicit in chaos and destruction of the President’s third shutdown of his term.”
But that plan is still in the expanding category of things Trump will not sign into law, despite the six appropriations bills in the package already being agreed upon by the House and Senate.
Trump is hosting Republican and Democratic leaders at the White House on Wednesday
While negotiations fell off entirely over the holiday break, Trump summoned the Democratic and Republican leaders of both chambers to the White House situation room for a Wednesday afternoon meeting to discuss border security. The meeting will be the first since their tumultuous on-camera discussion before the shutdown began.
To make the possibility of the government reopening soon more unlikely, Trump doubled down on his desired number for wall funding at $US5.6 billion during his cabinet meeting Wednesday. Trump called the $US5.6 billion figure “such a small number” and said the shutdown “could be a long time.”
Democrats headed into the meeting without much optimism a deal will be struck, suggesting the shutdown will continue, according to one Democratic aide.
After the meeting, lawmakers emerged without having made any real progress, pledging another meeting this week. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged Trump to “reconsider” making wall funding the central issue keeping the shutdown in effect.
As the shutdown continues to take its toll on everyday services and federal employees who will have to start going without pay, the urgency to find a solution could ramp up. But as it stands, the fight over wall funding has brought a now politically divided Congress to a standstill, moreso than it did when Republicans were in complete control.
Arkansas Sen. John Boozman, a Republican appropriator, told INSIDER on Wednesday that “the biggest factor right now is what the president will accept” and that there is no path forward at the moment.
“I think that’s the course that he set out and if he can accomplish his goal by holding the others hostage, then that’s a good strategy,” Boozman added. “We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.”
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