Neither side in the battle over President Trump’s border wall appears to be budging, raising the odds of a partial government shutdown come Friday night.
“Spending discussions have stalled, with no talks between Trump and Democrats since Tuesday” of last week, Bloomberg’s Justin Sink and Erik Wasson reported midday Monday. The House is not expected to return from its long weekend until Wednesday, and lawmakers reportedly have no plans on how to proceed once they’re back.
Trump reaffirmed his hardline stance on his demand for $5 billion for border wall construction with a tweet Monday:
Along the same lines, White House senior adviser Stephen Miller appeared on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday, saying the Trump administration would do “whatever is necessary to build the border wall,” including a partial shutdown of the government: “If it comes to it, absolutely. This is a very fundamental issue.” Miller added, “At stake is the question of whether or not the United States remains a sovereign country.”
On the other side of the battle, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reaffirmed his position on the matter over the weekend, telling Chuck Todd of NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Trump is “not going to get the wall in any form.”
One complicating factor in the conflict is that so many lawmakers have left Washington and may not be coming back. “House Republican leaders are … confronting a more mundane and awkward problem,” The New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Emily Cochrane wrote. “Their vanquished and retiring members are sick and tired of Washington and don’t want to show up anymore to vote.” The GOP’s reduced ranks in Congress makes it even less likely that Trump will be able to get the funding he wants.
Planning begins: With no sign of a resolution, officials are beginning to plan for a shutdown, which would affect nine federal departments – the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, State, Interior, Agriculture, Treasury, Commerce, Homeland Security and Justice – and some independent agencies, along with roughly 40 percent of the federal civilian workforce. The Office of Management and Budget held a conference call on Friday with agency officials to prepare for a potential lapse in funding. And the Hill’s Niv Ellis reports that Democrats are now preparing for a “prolonged” shutdown that could last until the new Congress is sworn in on January 3.
Who gets the blame: One thing is clear, though: the majority of Americans don’t want to see a shutdown. A new poll from USA Today and Suffolk University found that 54 percent of respondents opposed a shutdown if Congress refuses to provide the money Trump is demanding for the border wall, compared to 29 percent who said they would support it. And who would get the blame? About 43 percent of respondents said they’d point the finger at Trump and the Republicans, while 24 percent said they’d blame Democrats and 30 percent said they’d blame both.