Mere hours after the federal government shut down at midnight Friday for the first time in more than four years, Democrats and Republicans have started blaming each other for halting all but the most essential operations.
President Donald Trump got in on the act early on Saturday, saying that Democrats wanted to give him “a nice present” to mark the one-year anniversary of his inauguration. Even though the Democrats “could have easily made a deal” they “decided to play Shutdown politics instead.” The commander in chief used the hashtag “#DemocratShutdown.”
The shutdown, the president added, is just one more example of why voters need to elect more Republicans in November “in order to power through mess!” He later noted that with more Republican lawmakers, “We can then be even tougher on Crime (and Border), and even better to our Military & Veterans!”
Trump pinned blame on Democrats mere hours after the White House press secretary called lawmakers on the other side of the aisle “obstructionist losers” in a statement that seemed to dash some hope that the shutdown could be resolved quickly. Shortly after the federal government shut down, Democratic and Republican leaders expressed optimism that ongoing talks throughout the weekend could provide a solution. And Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney even said there was a “really good chance” of the issue being resolved before government offices are scheduled to open Monday morning.
The White House statement though seemed to draw a line in the sand on one of the most contentious issues leading to the shutdown, making clear all negotiations on immigration were off the table until government funding resumes.
“We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators. When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform.”
Senate Democrats, however, blamed Republicans for the shutdown, insisting they negotiated several points to try to reach a deal, but were met with rejections. “It’s almost as if you were rooting for a shutdown,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor in comments directed at Trump.
For now polls suggest voters are more sympathetic to Democrats. A poll by Washington Post-ABC News released Friday afternoon showed that 48 percent of Americans said they would blame Trump and Republicans rather than Democrats for a potential shutdown, compared to 28 percent who would blame Democrats. In a sign of how Americans are tired of Washington dysfunction in general, 18 percent of Americans said they would blame both parties for a shutdown.
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