Politics

Congress, Trump Basically Give Up on Ending Partial Shutdown Until 2019

Negotiations stalled as Senate, House only schedule pro forma sessions until New Year

The hallways in the Capitol have largely been devoid of lawmakers, who have for the most part punted on a solution for the partial government shutdown until 2019. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Congress and President Donald Trump are basically giving up on reaching a deal to end the government’s partial shutdown for 2018, throwing in the towel until the New Year and a new Congress. 

The White House and Senate Republican leaders on Thursday signaled it will then be up to Trump and the likely incoming Democratic speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to find a solution.

First, the White House released a statement that appeared to signal an end to negotiations with a Senate Democrats.

“The president has made clear that any bill to fund the government must adequately fund border security to stop the flow of illegal drugs, criminals, MS-13 gang members, child smugglers and human traffickers into our communities — and protect the American people,” the White House said in a statement that was not attributed to any senior official.

“The President does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our county’s safety and security,” the statement said.

And then, Kansas GOP Sen. Pat Roberts presided over the Senate for a brief four-minute session Thursday, with the prayer by Senate Chaplain Barry Black alluding to the gravity of the shutdown. 

“Stay close to our lawmakers. Remind them to trust always in the multitude of your mercy. Deliver them from the mire of division and despair as you lead them to your desired destination,” Black said. 

To that, Roberts rejoined: “Amen. Yea, verily, yea and hallelujah!”

Next up will be a Senate pro forma session on Monday, the last legislative and calendar day of the year. Short of an unexpected and long shot deal before then, it will be up to Trump and Pelosi to negotiate an end to the partial shutdown After the new Congress is sworn in on Jan. 3.

The House followed suit with its own brief pro forma session at 4 p.m. as well, although there was a little more drama in that chamber. 

Democrat Jim McGovern of Massachusetts attempted to introduce a bill to re-open the government. The incoming House Rules chairman was not recognized by Republican Luke Messer of Indiana, who was presiding over the perfunctory session and gaveled out over McGovern’s objections. McGovern’s proposal was a continuing resolution to keep the government open until Feb. 8.

 

The House will meet next also on Monday, December 31 at 10 a.m., for a pro forma session. 

Trump is demanding $5 billion for his southern border wall, an amount Democrats are opposed to. Democrats also support fencing but not the border wall he campaigned.

“Democrats have offered Republicans three options to re-open government that all include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security — but not the President's immoral, ineffective and expensive wall. With the House Majority, Democrats will act swiftly to end the Trump Shutdown, and will fight for a strategic, robust national security policy, including strong and smart border security, and strong support for our servicemembers and veterans,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said in a statement. 

Katherine Tully-McManus and Lindsey McPherson contributed to this report.

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