No signs of Trump backing down as shutdown looms


The US government began a Christmas shutdown early Saturday, after Congress adjourned without passing a federal spending bill or addressing President Donald Trump's demand for money to build a border wall.

At a White House bill signing, Trump said the government was "totally prepared for a very long shutdown", though hardly anyone thought a lengthy shutdown was likely.

Just 10 days earlier, though, in that same Oval Office, Trump had bragged to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that he would be happy to take the responsibility for a shutdown.

Trump has previously said he would be "proud" to shut down the government "for border security". "If enough Dems don't vote, it will be a Democrat Shutdown!" he tweeted.

McConnell, who met with President Trump Friday at the White House, said in a Senate speech that "this legislation would be quite uncontroversial in a more normal political moment". In 2015, Mr. Trump said of his wall, "It's going to be made of hardened concrete, and it's going to be made out of rebar, and steel".

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged approval of the bill, which includes $5.7 billion President Trump wants for the southern border with Mexico.

Federal parks will close and more than 400,000 federal "essential" employees in those agencies will work without pay until the dispute is resolved.

All sides insisted negotiations were underway but no agreement was on the horizon, and the adjournment of the House and Senate meant nobody would be around to approve it anyway.

The House has now approved the levels of funding Mr Trump has asked for, but before it reaches the president it also needs to be passed by 60 votes in the Senate - where Republicans only hold 51 seats.

The Democrats have also remained resolute that United States taxpayers should not pay for it.

"All of this turmoil is causing chaos in the markets, chaos overseas and it's making the United States less prosperous and less secure", Schumer said.

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Three-quarters of the government will not be affected, since budget bills funding those operations had already been approved.

The government has until midnight to vote on a new spending plan.

"Wheels down IAD ready to vote no on this stupid wall", he tweeted at dawn as his plane landed at Dulles International Airport outside Washington.

Trump was scheduled to fly to Florida late Friday for his Christmas break, but the White House said the president postponed the trip and would remain in Washington in an effort to salvage a spending deal. The nuance could provide Trump a way to try to proclaim victory.

Negotiations between the White House and Democrats went on into Friday night.

Right now, Republicans still need at least 10 Democrats to sign off on a bill before it can be passed along to Trump's desk. To kill time, the Senate kept a procedural roll call vote open for more than four hours.

The government shutdown, which will take effect at midnight Friday if a deal is not reached, would place 660,000 federal employees on furlough, with half forced to work without pay. However, Trump has threatened to veto the bill, resulting in the predicament we are at now. The Department of Veterans Affairs and others agencies will operate as usual.

McConnell has so far resisted doing that, and Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Orrin Hatch indicated on Friday that they would not support it.

So what exactly will happen if the government does shut down?

Unlike with some previous shutdowns, the National Park Service will keep almost all parks and monuments open, but with no staff or services available, and no bathrooms other than pit toilets.