Trump plans border wall visit with no end to shutdown near
Lawmakers return Thursday to Washington, but there’s no deal in sight to end a partial government shutdown, with neither President Trump nor Senate Democrats backing down from the standoff over border security spending.
Digging in for a fight, Mr. Trump said he planned a trip next month to the unfinished border wall that is at the heart of the ongoing partial government shutdown.
He made the announcement during a surprise visit with U.S. troops in Iraq, adding that he will not budge on his demand for roughly $5 billion in funding for border security that includes funding for more wall or barrier construction on the border with Mexico.
“Whatever it takes. We need a wall. We need safety for our country,” said Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump said he would visit a part of the existing wall or fence on the border before his State of the Union address on Jan. 22.
Neither the president nor Senate Democrats were talking about a possible deal or scheduling negotiating sessions for Thursday, signaling that the shutdown could last beyond Jan. 3 when a new Congress is sworn in with a Democratic majority in control of the House.
Capitol Hill Democrats fiercely oppose the administration’s border plans, including the wall that was one of Mr. Trump’s top campaign promises in 2016.
The partial shutdown appeared largely painless Wednesday, the first full business day since funding lapsed Saturday for about 25 percent of the federal government.
While the current partial shutdown hits only 25 percent of the federal government, several big departments are impacted, including Interior, Justice and Homeland Security.
The Trump administration was working to minimize the impact, keeping monuments and some parks open and maintaining law enforcement, public safety and other essential services.
The effort that administration officials described as keeping the shutdown “as painless as possible,” contrasted sharply with President Barack Obama’s attempts to dramatize the 2013 shutdown.
The Obama administration went so far as to erect police barriers around monuments in Washington and cordoned off scenic overlook parking lots on the George Washington Memorial Highway along the Potomac River.
Still, roughly 800,000 government workers are affected by the current shutdown. Many have to work but must wait until after the shutdown to get paid.
Angry federal workers took to Twitter to voice frustration and air grievances, making #ShutdownStories a popular hashtag.
“My husband is a Park Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. He had to sign his furlough papers, we have no idea when his next check will come. We have a 4 yr old and a 4 month old. The mortgage is due, as well as land taxes. Oh, Xmas #ShutdownStoreis,” tweeted Tayor Futch.
Dr. Gail M. Sigel, a retinal cell biologist in Rochester, New York, tweeted: “Because of the shutdown, I can’t access the website to complete my reviews for a student federal grant program. The students will suffer. #TrumpChristmasShutdown #shutdown #GovernmentShutdown.”
Not all federal employees bemoaned their predicament.
“To everyone complaining about the #shutdown STOP! It is your personal responsibility to have an emergency fund for unforeseen circumstances. I have been affected and just bought a house, you don’t see me complaining and blaming others #shutdownbeard #ShutdownStories Be an ADULT!” tweeted Justin D. Phelps.