The shutdown of the US Federal Government will last beyond Christmas, as Donald Trump insists on $5.7 billion for his Wall with Mexico.
The shutdown began at midnight Friday when Trump — who has said he will be “proud” to halt Government operations — refused to accept continued funding without money for The Wall.
About 25% of the government shut, with 800,000 employees unpaid from December 22. Of those, 380,000 will not return after the holidays while 420,000 —such as Customs and Border patrols, airport security, and the Secret Service — are “essential” and must work without pay.
Sites such as national parks were unstaffed or closed. Nine of 15 departments will be shut including Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and — ironically, given its responsiblity for US borders — Homeland Security.
Talks on Saturday between the White House and Democrats remained deadlocked. Vice President Mike Pence presented an offer to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. But as Pence was on his way, administration officials said in a conference call that Trump would accept nothing less than the $5.7 billion down payment on the $25 billion barrier.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally adjourned the chamber until Thursday.
Democrat leaders said they will ensure the Government will reopen next month, when they take control of the House of Representatives. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We have certainty. We will end this the first week in January.”
House Republicans, propelled by Trump loyalists, passed a continuing resolution with the Wall money on Thursday, but there was no chance of the measure getting the required 60 votes in the 100-member Senate.
The shutdown is the third this year. After brief closures in January and February, funding was allocated to the military until 2020 to ensure it is not affected on this occasion.
Trump Insists on “Great Steel Barrier”
Trump told Democrat leaders Schumer and Pelosi on December 11 in front of cameras, “I am proud to shut down the government for border security. I will take the mantle.”
White House advisors and leading Republicans, stunned that Trump had taken credit for any closure, tried to avert a shutdown. They said last week that a deal had been reached in which “other sources” would be found for Wall funding.
But when conservative radio and TV commentators assailed him as weak, Trump withdrew any agreement and insisted the $5.7 billion must be in the continuing resolution.
He fought his battle in a lunch with Republican legislators and on Twitter on Saturday.
The crisis of illegal activity at our Southern Border is real and will not stop until we build a great Steel Barrier or Wall. Let work begin!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 22, 2018
Meanwhile, an unnamed “senior administration official” repeated the long-shredded Trump fantasy that the Mexican Government will finance the barrier.
Senior administration just wrapped a call about the shutdown where he said these exact words while demanding Dems give President Trump $5 billion: “Mexico will pay for the wall.”
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) December 22, 2018
The official told reporters: “[The] number one promise was to secure the border….That’s what this is all about….What the Democrats have put forward is something that is unacceptable.”