President Donald Trump and other key Republicans said Sunday that he is not backing down from his border wall funding demand that will leave nine Cabinet agencies and smaller federal offices closed until after Christmas.
“It’s very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” White House Budget Director and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told Fox News Sunday. The 116th Congress gavels in Jan. 3, at which point Democrats take the majority in the House and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to become speaker.
Mulvaney said Pelosi is “beholden to her left wing to where she cannot be seen as agreeing with the president on anything until she’s actually speaker.”
Administration officials have offered $2.1 billion for the border barrier and another $400 million for a “border security” account that would finance other technologies. But Democrats oppose the latter, long referring to such proposals for that kind of border security account as a “slush fund.”
White House officials said Saturday the president intends to hold firm on his demand for $5 billion for his border barrier project. Democrats in both chambers oppose that much, and say they would only support a shutdown-ending spending package with a lesser amount for border “fencing” and other security tools like unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors.
But Trump on Sunday mocked those ideas and returned to his hardline rhetoric about a wall.
“The only way to stop drugs, gangs, human trafficking, criminal elements and much else from coming into our Country is with a Wall or Barrier,” he tweeted. “Drones and all of the rest are wonderful and lots of fun, but it is only a good old fashioned Wall that works!”
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and Trump’s personal attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, also made pitches for the barrier on Twitter.
Day Two of Shutdown
Talks between Senate Democrats and senior Trump administration officials continued this weekend after about 40 percent of the federal apparatus ran out of funds and was shuttered Saturday morning.
But with little progress toward a deal, both the House and Senate adjourned until Thursday, meaning hundreds of thousands of federal workers will face uncertainty on Christmas — and beyond.
Democratic aides reported little progress as lawmakers headed home.
“The vice president came in for a discussion and made an offer. Unfortunately, we’re still very far apart,” a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Saturday evening, referring to VP Mike Pence.
Aides declined to describe any Pence offers and Democratic counter-offers, but Trump’s mocking tweet provides a window into the talks.
For his part, Trump tweeted Saturday he and his team were negotiating “hard” with Democrats. But when he hosted a border security lunch in the White House residence, he didn’t invite a single Democratic lawmaker or leader. (A White House spokeswoman was unable to describe why, given Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said repeatedly it will be up to Trump and Schumer to strike a deal.)
Pelosi has repeatedly said she’s ready to put a bill on the floor re-opening the government shortly after House Democrats reclaim the majority in January.
But in an ominous sign for the federal workers wondering about future paychecks, the president on Saturday warned of his remaining in Washington to oversee negotiations: “it could be a long stay.”
Watch: Remember When Donald Trump Wanted Mexico To Pay for the Wall?