Government shutdown set to drag on through Christmas, as 400,000 federal workers go without pay
The government is set to remain partially shut down through at least Thursday, because President Trump demanded billions of dollars in taxpayer money to fund a border wall he promised Mexico would pay for.
On Saturday, both the Senate and the House adjourned for the Christmas holiday, and the shutdown began just after midnight. Shortly before Congress adjourned, the Washington Post reported, Trump met with conservative Republicans and sent Vice President Mike Pence to meet with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY).
“The vice president came in for a discussion and made an offer. Unfortunately, we’re still very far apart,” a spokesperson for Schumer said in a statement.
Earlier this month, Trump said repeatedly he would “own” the shutdown.
“I will take the mantle,” Trump said during a meeting with Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at the White House. “I’m not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn’t work. I will take the mantle of shutting down, and I’m going to shut it down for border security.”
Despite the promise, Trump and his allies have been pointing fingers at Democrats, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has blamed the Senate.
“Whatever the Senate can pass, and the president will sign, we stand ready. The bill is over there,” Ryan told the Post.
But in the Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the government would remain closed “until the president and Senate Democrats have reached an agreement.”
Nearly 400,000 federal workers will go without pay until the government reopens. As of Sunday morning, funding for national parks operations, homeland security, tax collection, transportation, and law enforcement have expired. The rest of the government, including the military, is funded through next September, but the longer the shutdown lasts, the more services will lose funding.
Some “essential” federal workers at various agencies will continue working through the shutdown without pay, including, as the Post noted, many Transportation Security Administration (TSA) workers, with holiday travel in full swing. Congress has, after every previous shutdown, passed legislation to retroactively pay employees.
“At midnight last night, roughly 25 percent of the government shut down because of one person and one person alone: President Trump,” Schumer said Saturday. “We arrived at this moment because President Trump has been on a destructive two-week temper tantrum… If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall, plain and simple.”
Schumer and Pelosi say they support $1.3 billion in spending for border security, but they will not support any of that money going toward building a wall. Instead, they said, it should go toward technology like drones.