WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown will almost certainly be handed off to a divided government to solve in the new year, as both parties traded blame Friday and President Donald Trump sought to raise the stakes in the weeklong impasse.
As agreement eludes Washington in the waning days of the Republican monopoly on power, it sets up the first big confrontation between Trump and newly empowered Democrats. Trump is sticking with his demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico, and Democrats, who take control of the House on Jan. 3, are refusing to give him what he wants.
Trump raised the stakes on Friday, reissuing threats to shut the U.S.-Mexico border to pressure Congress to fund the wall and to cease aid to three Central American countries from which many migrants have fled.
The president also signaled he was in no rush to seek a resolution, welcoming the fight as he heads toward his own bid for re-election in 2020. He tweeted Thursday evening that Democrats may be able to block him now, “but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”
The shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors to stay home or work without pay, and many are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse. It also is beginning to pinch citizens who count on varied public services. Gates are closed at some national parks, the government won’t issue new federal flood insurance policies and in New York, the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts suspended work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers, including several civil lawsuits in which Trump himself is a defendant.
With another long holiday weekend coming and nearly all lawmakers away from the Capitol there is little expectation of a quick fix.
“We are far apart,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CBS on Friday, claiming of Democrats, “They’ve left the table all together.”
Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Democrats are no longer negotiating with the administration over an offer made back on Saturday to accept less than the $5 billion Trump wants for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Democrats said the White House offered $2.5 billion for border security, but that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence it wasn’t acceptable.
“There’s not a single Democrat talking to the president of the United States about this deal,” Mulvaney said Friday. He told Fox News that Trump had canceled his plans to travel to Florida for New Year’s.
Mulvaney added of the shutdown: “We do expect this to go on for a while.”
Democrats brushed off the White House’s attempt to cast blame.
“For the White House to try and blame anyone but the president for this shutdown doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has vowed to pass legislation as soon as she takes the gavel, which is expected when the new Congress convenes, to reopen the nine shuttered departments and dozens of agencies now hit by the partial shutdown.
“If they can’t do it before Jan. 3, then we will do it,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., incoming chairman of the Rules Committee. “We’re going to do the responsible thing. We’re going to behave like adults and do our job.”