The White House and congressional leaders still appear far from ending the stalemate even as hundreds of thousands of federal employees face furloughs or temporarily operate without pay.
After he returned to Washington from a surprise trip to U.S. military service members in Iraq and Germany, Trump immediately turned his attention back to the immigration struggle. In a tweet, he asked whether Democrats have “finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border.” He suggested federal employees damaged by the shutdown service Democrats, asking: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”
It was unclear what signs exactly Trump was having to show federal workers are Democrats. But 95 percentage of campaign donations from federal employees in the 2016 presidential election went to Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to The Hill.
In following tweets Thursday, Trump accused Democrats of “obstruction” in blocking money for the wall. He also claimed that the party wants an “Open Southern Border” — that Democratic leaders have said they don’t want.
The remarks Thursday, combined with remarks the president made Wednesday, indicate that he has little desire to back down from his demand even as nine federal departments remain unfunded. With Democrats pledging to not invest in a project they call immoral and inefficient, the impasse seems no closer to breaking.
Meanwhile, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a Thursday statement that Trump “does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our country’s safety and security.” She contended that the White House provided a “reasonable, common sense solution” to Democrats on Saturday — a proposition that allegedly came from a meeting between Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. The Democratic leader refused an offer that allegedly included over the $1.6 billion for border security that he has publicly said he’d accept.
Responding to the White House on Thursday, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said Democrats offered the GOP three options to keep the government running. He said they “all include funding for strong, sensible and effective border security” but not Trump’s “immoral, ineffective and expensive wall.” Democrats “will act swiftly to end the Trump Shutdown” when they take the majority, he said.
House Democrats have promised to pass a short term spending bill to reopen the authorities, without wall cash, after Jan 3. However, Trump could threaten to veto it, jeopardizing the odds of it getting through the GOP-held Senate.
Amid the boundary wall spat and furor over the passing of an 8-year-old Guatemalan kid in U.S. custody, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen will go to the U.S.-Mexico boundary on Friday, according to NBC News.
Asked Wednesday in Iraq how long he would hold out to see his needs met, Trump responded: “Whatever it takes.” He said Pelosi, who will probably become speaker in January, is “calling the shots.”
Democrats seem unsure about precisely how the president wants to spend that $5 billion. While Trump as a candidate called for a definite barrier financed by Mexico, his requirements have changed. He has recently called for a wall, a “steel slat” barrier or a weapon, “anything [Democrats] want to call it.”
Pelosi mocked the president’s shifting descriptions in an interview with USA Today printed this week.
“First of all, the fact … that he says, ‘We’re going to build a wall with cement, and Mexico’s going to pay for it’ while he’s already backed off of the cement – now he’s down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something, I’m not sure where he is,” she told the paper.
Since the impasse lasted Thursday, Sen. Dick Durbin — an Illinois Democrat and the No. 2 senator in his party said he saw “no end in sight.” In a tweet, he contended Trump has “taken our government hostage” over the wall, which he predicted “both wasteful and ineffective.”