Partial government shutdown to last at least through Thursday

Donald Trump. File photo: Flickr/Gage Skidmore

Dec. 22 (UPI) — The federal government’s partial shutdown over a border wall will continue until at least after Christmas because the U.S. Senate adjourned for the day Saturday afternoon without an agreement.

Due to the shutdown, President Donald Trump will remain in Washington, D.C. and first lady Melania Trump will return from their home in Palm Beach, Fkla., “so they can spend Christmas together,” president secretary Sarah Sanders latter announced. The holiday plans of other Trump family members staying at Mar-a-Lago weren’t known.

Monday is a pro forma session — lasting only a few minutes — to prevent Trump from making recess appointments in their absence. The next actual session is scheduled for Thursday afternoon, two days after Christmas. Federal employees aren’t being paid during the shutdown, the third this year, but will receive reciprocal pay.

Essential employers will continue to work during the closure.

Before the adjournment, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced there would be no action on the floor until Trump and Senate Democrats come to an agreement. Legislation needs at least votes to pass and the Republicans have only a 51-49 majority.

Later in the day, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer responded that “Leader McConnell can’t duck out of it.”

Schumer, in declaring it is a Trump shutdown, said “President Trump, if you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall — plain and simple.”

Trump is demanding $5.7 billion to pay for a border wall in a spending bill.

Earlier this week, the Senate unanimously by voice approved a continuing resolution to fund 25 percent of the agencies through Feb. 8. The rest of the government, including the military, is funded through September.

Then Trump, who earlier had agreed to the resolution, changed his mind. The House voted 217-185 late Thursday to approve a spending bill with money for the wall.

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence, budget director Mick Mulvaney and the President’s son-in-law, Senior Advisor Jared Kushner went to Capitol Hill and stayed even after the House and Senate adjourned for the night.

On Saturday, Pence returned to Capitol Hill, where he was set to meet with Schumer

On Saturday afternoon, Trump had lunch with Republican leaders “concerning Border Security,” according to a post on Twitter.

Afterward, he posted: “The crisis of illegal activity at our Southern Border is real and will not stop until we build a great Steel Barrier or Wall. Let work begin!”

The shutdown affects thousands of federal employees as funding for nine departments and other federal agencies lapsed at midnight, including Homeland Security and the Justice Department.

Many federal agencies and services, such as the U.S. Postal Service, the military, the Department of Veteran Affairs, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and food stamps will not be affected, but 380,000 employees will likely be sent home without pay and some 420,000 others may have to work without pay, The New York Times reported.

Workers were granted a paid holiday on Christmas Eve by Trump this week to make it a four-day weekend with Christmas on Tuesday.

Trump has refused to accept lawmakers’ spending bill compromises without funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and continued to demand funding Friday evening in a video on his Twitter page.

“Our great country must have border security,” Trump said. “We don’t want people coming in that aren’t supposed to be here. We want people to come in through a legal process. It’s very dangerous out there.”

Trump added that he needed Democrats votes to secure funding for the border wall.

“Call it a Democrats shutdown, call it whatever you want, but we need their help to get this approved,” Trump said. “The shutdown hopefully will not last long.”


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