Congress, White House talking, but no quick end to shutdown

Posted December 25, 2018

While both sides are trading offers to end the stalemate, they remain far apart, and a top White House official warned the shutdown could stretch into January. "We arrived at this moment because President Trump has been on a destructive, two week temper tantrum, demanding the American taxpayer pony up for an expensive and ineffective border wall that the president promised Mexico would pay for".

Republican and Democratic senators alike expressed grave concern about Mattis's departure, which was spurred by Trump's decision to pull USA troops from Syria, despite the objections of military leaders and his own defense secretary.

Democrats painted Trump as the Grinch who stole the year-end deal. But after the outcry from conservatives, including talk show host Rush Limbaugh and commentator Ann Coulter, the House, at Trump's insistence, amended it a day later to include $5 billion for the wall. He had campaigned on the promise of building the wall, and he also promised Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has refused.

"The Democrats easily would support more border funding, border security, they´ve said that" if a broader deal could be reached, Republican Senator Bob Corker said on CNN.

"We moved off of the five and we hope they move up from their 1.3", Mulvaney said.

Trump hosted a lunch with conservative lawmakers, including House Freedom Caucus chiefs Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Jim Jordan of OH, and several senators, among them Lindsey Graham of SC.

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As United States president Donald Trump refuses to back down on the Mexico border wall, thousands of federal workers are set to have a glum Christmas this year due to non-payment of wages.

Most critical U.S. security functions remain operational, but 800,000 federal workers are impacted, with many furloughed just days before Christmas while others deemed essential are working unpaid.

The shutdown was expected to last through Thursday after the House and Senate, which held rare weekend sessions, adjourned until later in the week.

The president scheduled a border security meeting Monday afternoon at the White House with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other department officials, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.

Federal employees had already been granted an extra day of holiday on Christmas Eve, thanks to an executive order Trump signed last week.

US Democratic leaders charged Monday that President Donald Trump was "plunging the country into chaos" with multiple crises and said he was offering no way to end a government shutdown.

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He suggested House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be unwilling to work with the Trump administration until after she has been elected speaker by the incoming Democratic majority.

Outside the White House, Washington's National Christmas Tree became a forlorn symbol of the dysfunction when the National Park Service - one of the government bodies hit by the funding shutdown - briefly turned off the lights.

As many as 5,000 forest service firefighters and 3,600 National Weather Service employees would also continue working, with the expectation that they will be paid back in full once the government reopens.

Schumer and Pence met Saturday at the request of the White House, according to Schumer's office. All told, the administration says, he wants 700 miles of wall at a total cost of $18 billion. The party has offered to keep spending at existing levels, $1.3bn, for border fencing and other security measures.

"But while trying to pin the blame on Democrats, Mulvaney, speaking on Fox News Sunday" acknowledged that Trump's hardline stand played a role.

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