WASHINGTON - The U.S. government is partially closed until at least Thursday, and possibly for days or even weeks beyond, as President Donald Trump holds firm in demanding funds for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats remain resolutely opposed.
On Monday, Trump claimed that "virtually every Democrat" strongly supported a "Border Wall or Fence" but turned against the idea after he made it an important part of his campaign for president.
Virtually every Democrat we are dealing with today strongly supported a Border Wall or Fence. It was only when I made it an important part of my campaign, because people and drugs were pouring into our Country unchecked, that they turned against it. Desperately needed!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Later he said he was "all alone" at the White House waiting for the "Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security."
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. 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. Crazy!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 24, 2018
Trump is expected to discuss border security issues with Homeland Security Security Kirstjen Nielsen on Monday.
The top Congressional Democratic leaders blamed Trump for the government shutdown, saying he his recent decisions are "plunging the country in chaos."
"Instead of bringing certainty into people's lives, he's continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts," said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House speaker designate Nancy Pelosi in a statement.
This marks the fourth time in the last five years that Congress and the White House have been unable to agree on how much money the federal government should spend and for which objectives, failing to meet a funding deadline that causes non-essential services and operations to be halted.
Last Wednesday, a shutdown seemed unlikely as the Republican-led Senate unanimously passed a temporary funding bill. The White House originally signaled support for the bill, which boosted overall border security funding but did not set aside funds for a wall. But Trump ultimately rejected it, demanding $5.7 billion for wall construction.
"Our great country must have border security … with a wall or a slat-fence or whatever you want to call it," the president said in a video message Friday.
The Republican-led House of Representatives has approved a spending bill with wall funding, but the measure does not have enough votes to pass the Senate, where Democrats have lined up in fierce opposition.
'Abandon the wall'
"It will never pass the Senate. Not today, not next week, not next year," Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said. "So Mr. President, President Trump: If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall. Plain and simple."
Most Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have rallied around Trump's demand.
"One would think that securing our homeland, controlling our borders and protecting the American people, would be bipartisan priorities … a core duty of any nation's government," Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.
McConnell adjourned the chamber on Saturday, with no votes expected until Thursday, December 27 at the earliest.
In the past, Democrats have been flexible on additional border security funding, including for a wall, as part of a larger deal on thorny immigration issues.
Earlier this year, Democrats were willing to support wall funding in return for protections for undocumented immigrants brought to America as children a deal Trump initially hailed but later abandoned.
In 2013, the Senate passed bipartisan legislation to dramatically boost border security funding as part of a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration laws. But that bill died when the Republican-led House refused to consider it.
Now Trump is demanding wall funding while so far offering nothing Democrats want in return. On Sunday, White House officials hinted that could change.
"The president has made it very clear, however, that he is willing to discuss a larger immigration solution," incoming acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on ABC's This Week program.
Mulvaney also suggested in a separate interview on Fox News Sunday that the Trump administration had stepped back from it's demand for $5.7 billion in wall funding, saying it offered a compromise somewhere between that figure and $1.3 billion in border security funding offered by Democrats.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, then-candidate Trump repeatedly pledged that Mexico would pay for a border wall. Now, the White House says Mexico is contributing, indirectly, as a result of economic benefits to America stemming from a renegotiated free trade accord between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Democrats have repeatedly reminded Trump of his promise.
"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," Schumer said.