A partial government shutdown entered its third day Monday, with little hope of a quick resolution as lawmakers left town for the holidays.
Congress and the White House have failed to break an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build his proposed border wall. About a quarter of the government will remain unfunded until at least Thursday, when the Senate will next convene.
But the stalemate could last much longer as Trump and Democratic leaders give no ground on funding for the barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border. On Sunday, incoming White House chief of staff and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said “it’s very possible this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” which starts on Jan. 3.
The political fight has affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers around the country. About 380,000 government employees were expected to face furloughs. More than 420,000 workers were projected to temporarily work without pay — though the affected pay cycles will not come for a few weeks.
The shutdown started Saturday when Congress failed to pass seven spending bills covering nine federal departments before funding expired. Negotiations continued over the weekend, but leaders appeared to make little progress.
In a Christmas Eve tweet, the president claimed Democrats only turned against the concept of a border wall when he made it part of his campaign. He wrote of the wall: “Desperately needed!” While many Democrats supported legislation in 2006 to build fencing on the border, they did not support the more substantial barrier as conceived by Trump.
Democrats have refused to approve money for the proposed wall, a core Trump campaign promises that sparked chants among supporters across the country. Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would fund the barrier, but it has refused to do so. On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the burden on Democrats and the Trump administration to strike a deal to end the shutdown.
Vice President Mike Pence met with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Saturday. A Schumer spokesman said Pence made an offer for border security funding, according to NBC News.
“Unfortunately, we’re still very far apart,” the spokesman said.
Senators previously negotiated a spending deal with $1.6 billion for border security, but it didn’t include funding for Trump’s wall. Last week, the chamber passed a measure to fund the government through Feb. 8 without money for the barrier. Then, as Trump threatened to veto the bill, the House rejected it and instead passed short-term spending legislation with $5 billion for wall constriction.
Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican and Trump ally, put Pence’s offer at somewhere between $1.6 billion and $5 billion for border security, according to NBC.
The White House needs Schumer’s cooperation to get the 60 votes needed to push a bill through the GOP-controlled Senate. Republicans currently hold a 51-49 majority. It will expand to 53-47 after Jan. 3.
Before the new Congress, Republicans can pass a spending measure in the House with only GOP votes. But Democrats will take control of the chamber next year. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, an ardent opponent of the wall, will likely become speaker.
Trump has insisted the border wall is necessary for border security. He repeatedly threatened a shutdown if Congress did not provide money for the barrier. Earlier this month, he said he would be “proud” to close the government for border security and “take the mantle” if funding lapsed.
In a tweet Sunday, the president claimed “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 added: “Drones and all of the rest are wonderful and lots of fun, but it is only a good old fashioned Wall that works!”
Trump has muddied his own messaging on the necessity of a wall. He has repeatedly lauded his administration for cracking down on illegal immigration — which does not currently have the barrier the president desires. Earlier this month, he said the border is “tight.”
Trump canceled a planned trip to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida as the partial government shutdown started.