Washington — Members of the House of Representatives were notified that no votes are expected to take place this week, a congressional aide told CBS News, which virtually guarantees that the partial government shutdown will drag on into the new year. Both the Senate and House reconvened Thursday after the Christmas break, but few lawmakers showed up on Capitol Hill.
Justin Goodman, a spokesperson for Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said Democrats and the White House are still “very far apart” in discussions to broker a deal and reopen the government. “As our office stated immediately following the Saturday meeting, the two sides were ‘still very far apart’ — and still are today because of the President’s insistence on keeping the government closed over his expensive and impractical wall,” Goodman wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon.
As the government will likely remain partially closed until the next congressional session — which starts on Jan. 3 — Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, and House Democrats will be charged with passing a spending bill with their new majority.
The shutdown began early Saturday morning after negotiations hit an impasse over President Trump’s $5 billion demand for funds to construct a wall along the southwestern border. After meeting with U.S. service members in Iraq Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he would do “whatever it takes” to ensure that Congress approves funding for a border wall — one of his main campaign promises.
“It is outrageous that Republicans once again blocked our attempt to debate a bill to end the Trump Shutdown and reopen the government,” McGovern wrote in a statement Thursday. “Federal workers should not be held hostage by the president’s demand for a useless and offensive border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for.”
AshLee Strong, a spokesperson for Speaker Paul Ryan, said the House will only pass a bill that will make it through the Senate and that has the White House’s backing. “The White House is engaged in talks with Senate Democrats, and when the Senate acts, the House will be prepared to follow,” she said in a statement Thursday evening.
Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will work without pay or be furloughed until the government reopens. Some national parks are closed, but others remain open with limited services provided by the federal government or states.
Wednesday was the first scheduled workday for federal employees that was affected by the shutdown.
Earlier in December, in a remarkable Oval Office clash with Schumer and Pelosi, the president vowed to take the blame if the government shut down. But he has recently sought to fault Democrats.
“The Democrats OBSTRUCTION of the desperately needed Wall, where they almost all recently agreed it should be built, is exceeded only by their OBSTRUCTION of 350 great people wanting & expecting to come into Government after being delayed for more than two years, a U.S. record!,” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter Thursday.
Schumer’s office, however, pushed back on the president’s comments. “For the White House to try and blame anyone but the President for this shutdown doesn’t pass the laugh test,” Goodman said.
Rep. James McGovern, D-Massachusetts, said Republican leadership blocked efforts to reopen the government by refusing to allow debate on a spending bill.