WASHINGTON – Shutdown politics did not take a holiday this week as President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats continued to spar over a border wall funding dispute that has frozen some government operations.
The partial government shutdown, which entered its fifth day Wednesday, was expected to last at least until Thursday, when senators could be called back to Capitol Hill. But there was little sign over the Christmas break that serious negotiations were underway.
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” Trump told reporters gathered in the Oval Office on Christmas morning, summing up the status of the stalemate. “But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas.”
Speaking after extending Merry Christmas to troops overseas via video conference, Trump said Democrats who oppose funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border once supported the idea.
Trump likened it to his 2017 firing of FBI Director James Comey, claiming Democrats once supported that idea until he actually did it.
Trump also claimed, without evidence, that “many” federal workers want to keep the government closed “until you get the funding for the wall.”
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, said the wall would be too costly, hard to maintain, and ineffective against illegal border crossings; they also said Trump and his aides are saying different things about what they want from a new budget plan.
“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts,” said a joint statement from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
They added: “The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it.”
Over the weekend, Pelosi – who is expected to become speaker in January – told USA TODAY that if the government was not reopened over the holiday Democrats would vote through a bill to do so when they took control. That bill is unlikely to meet the president’s demands for wall funding, but it is possible it would still pass the Senate. It is unclear if Trump would would sign the legislation.
Contributing: Eliza Collins
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