A partial US government shutdown over budget spending could continue right up to the opening of the next Congress on 3 January, and President Donald Trump said the temporary closure could last a “very long time.”
Without new concessions on his demand for a $5 billion border wall, most lawmakers left the nation’s capitol for Christmas, the president repeatedly used Twitter to complain and he scheduled a meeting with Homeland Security officials. The current Congress reconvenes on Thursday, giving the Republican majority about a week to bring Trump to his senses.
On 3 January, new members of Congress will be sworn in, having been elected in November’s mid-term elections, putting Democrats in charge of the House of Representatives.
“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,” the president posted on Twitter. “At some point the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more money than the Border Wall we are all talking about.”
The shutdown began at midnight Friday after opposition Democrats resisted President Donald Trump’s demand for $5 billion for the southern border wall, which he promised that Mexico would pay for.
Democratic congressional leaders hammered Trump Saturday as federal government agencies shut down.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi panned the funding crisis, which they call the “Trump shutdown,” that resulted from a juvenile “temper tantrum.”
“President Trump has said more than 25 times that he wanted a shutdown and now he has gotten what he wanted,” Schumer and Pelosi said in a joint statement.
“Democrats have offered Republicans multiple proposals to keep the government open, including one that already passed the Senate unanimously, and all of which include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security — not the president’s ineffective and expensive wall,” Schumer and Pelosi said. “If President Trump and Republicans choose to continue this Trump Shutdown, the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open government in January.”
“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense,” the Democratic leaders said.
Trump’s acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, suggested Democrats were “beholden” to their left wing because they refuse to fund what is deemed an iffective solution to a problem that largely does not exist.
“It’s very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” said Mulvaney. “This is what Washington looks like when you have a president who refuses to sort of go along to get along.”
Since the Great Recession, more Mexicans have left the United States than have entered, and most immigrants who are in the country illegally came in using a visa that subsequently expired, so notions of sneaky border crossings are out of date.
Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, when asked how much taxoayer money his party was going to approve for the Trump administration’s project, flatly resonded by saying : “None.”
“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,” wrote Trump on Twitter. “Drones and all of the rest are wonderful and lots of fun, but it is only a good old fashioned Wall that works!”
Nine of 15 federal departments, including State, Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture and Justice began partially shutting down after funding for them lapsed at midnight on Saturday.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of federal employees will have to work unpaid or are furloughed, a kind of temporary leave.
Customs and border staff will keep working, although their pay will be delayed. Airports will continue operating.
About 80% of National Parks employees were sent home, and parks could close, although some may stay open with limited staff and facilities.
About 90% of housing department workers have been forced into unpaid leave, which will delay loan processing and approvals.
Most of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will be sent home on unpaid leave, including those who assist taxpayers with questions about their tax bills.
The Food and Drug Administration will not perform routine inspections but agents will continue with activities considered vital to protecting health and safety.
The remaining 75% of the federal government is fully funded until September 2019 – so the defence, veterans affairs, labour and education departments are not affected.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped by 653 points Monday in the worst day of trading on Christmas Eve in history. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell by similarly large percentages.
U.S. crude oil prices also plunged by nearly 7 percent to an 18-month low, signaling weak demand in the months ahead as economic experts forecast a slowdown in 2019.
Trump exacerbated market volatility by suggesting he may fire Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and attacking the central bank for raising interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point last week.
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