Negotiations to end partial government shutdown at a standstill


Posted on: December 26th, 2018 by ABC News No Comments

Credit: Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) — On day five of a partial government shutdown, negotiations among Democrats, Republicans and the White House appear to be going nowhere.

The impasse has left about 420,000 federal workers working without pay and another 380,000 furloughed.

The Senate is scheduled to be in session later Thursday afternoon, but votes on a spending bill to re-open and fund the government aren’t yet scheduled since an agreement between Democrats and President Donald Trump hasn’t been reached. The House isn’t expected to meet formally Thursday.

The biggest sticking point for negotiators is the president’s request for more money for the border wall. Democrats have dug in and are refusing to give in to Trump’s demand for $5 billion.

Trump, who remained in Washington through the Christmas holiday, fumed to reporters on Tuesday and gave no indication of when the shutdown might end.

“I can’t tell you when the government is going to re-open,” he told reporters, adding that he will not sign any spending bill to end the crisis until “we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it.”

When Trump was asked on Tuesday if he was willing to negotiate a lesser amount than the $5 billion he has demanding, he said, “It’s complicated … we want the wall money to be increased.”

Over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence reportedly offered Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a deal to include $2.1 billion for border security in the spending bill, which is less than Trump’s initial demand but more than the $1.3 billion for “fencing” that Schumer has advocated in recent days.

It’s believed that offer from the White House was rejected.

Schumer’s office has not responded to a request by ABC News for a comment.

Trump argued Tuesday that federal workers support his position in the fight with Democrats over billions of dollars in funding for the border wall.

“Many of those workers have said to me and communicated, stay out until you get the funding for the wall,” he said, when asked for his message to the hundreds of thousands federal workers either furloughed or working without pay.

“These federal workers want the wall. The only one that doesn’t want the wall are the Democrats,” he added.

Meanwhile, the lead negotiators for the Democrats: Sen. Chuck Schumer and House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, aren’t backing down.

In a Christmas eve statement, the Democratic leaders jointly released a statement accusing Trump of “plunging the country into chaos.”

“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts. Meanwhile, different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his Trump Shutdown, making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment,” they said.

They went on: “As long as the president is guided by the House Freedom Caucus, it’s hard to see how he can come up with a solution that can pass both the House and Senate and end his Trump Shutdown.”

The chair of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, who encouraged Trump to shut the government down over his demand for $5 billion for the wall, accused Democrats of not budging on their refusal to fund the wall because of their “hatred for the president.”

On Wednesday, Meadows told ABC News that “no substantial progress” has been made since discussions broke down over the weekend.

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