The Slatest

Government Shutdown Expected to Last Through Christmas as Senate Adjourns

The U.S. Capitol is seen on December 21, 2018.
The U.S. Capitol is seen on December 21, 2018.
SAUL LOEB/Getty Images

Update at 5:11 p.m.: Washington appeared to be getting ready for a long shutdown Saturday as there was no end in sight to the impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for money to fund a border wall with Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate until Thursday as even a temporary measure to keep the government open seemed to be out of the question for now. The White House for now is saying that Trump is sticking to his demand for border wall funding. Although no one would discount the possibility of a last minute agreement, it seemed increasingly unlikely as Saturday dragged on with no compromise in sight.

Original post at 7:45 a.m.: The government partially shut down Saturday morning as furious last-minute negotiations were unable to break the logjam over President Donald Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund a border wall with Mexico. It marked the third shutdown in two years, a time when Republicans had majorities in both chambers of Congress and control of the White House. Unlike previous ones though, this current shutdown affects about one-quarter of the federal bureaucracy considering the majority of government programs are funded through Sept. 30. The “lapse in appropriations” covers areas within the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the State Department, the Interior Department, the Departure of Agriculture and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others.

Overall, the funding could lead to more than 380,000 federal employees being furloughed during Christmas week while 420,000 would work without pay. For now though, lawmakers have some time to reach a compromise without the shutdown really affecting many people considering it is now the weekend and both Monday and Tuesday are federal holidays. But some are suggesting the shutdown could continue at least until the new Congress takes over on Jan. 3.

Although President Trump had previously said he’d be “proud” to take the blame for any shutdown, on Friday night he clearly pointed the finger at Democrats in a video he posted on Twitter. “We’re going to have a shutdown,” Trump said in the video. “There’s nothing we can do about that because we need the Democrats to give us their votes.” Trump also told reporters that “we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown.”

Democratic leaders, meanwhile, didn’t act surprised at the shutdown, saying that it really marked the fulfillment of Trump’s plan all along. “President Trump has said more than 25 times that he wanted a shutdown and now he has gotten what he wanted,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement issued after the deadline to fund the government had passed.
Negotiations are expected to continue Saturday although it isn’t clear how any talks would progress. Some evidently frustrated Republicans noted that part of the problem is that they don’t know what the president is willing to compromise on. “The biggest problem is, we just don’t know what the president will sign,” said Republican Sen. Jeff Flake.

Republicans seemed particularly frustrated that Trump had seemed to change his mind on reaching a compromise to avoid a shutdown after he received criticism in conservative circles.“This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right? And so, how do you deal with that?” said Republican Sen. Bob Corker. “You have two talk radio hosts who completely flipped the president. And so, do we succumb to tyranny of talk radio hosts?”

As of Saturday morning there were no votes scheduled and House Republican leaders said members would get notified 24 hours in advance before any vote.