Government shutdown day 4: 5 things to know
The government remained partially shuttered on Christmas, as negotiations remained frozen and lawmakers were home celebrating the holiday with their families. President Donald Trump expressed frustration at the state of the shutdown, calling it “a disgrace” as he spoke to reporters at the White House.
Here are five things to know about the government shutdown:
When did the shutdown start?
The partial government shutdown began Friday night at midnight, when Congress couldn’t agree on a spending plan that included $5 billion Trump requested for a wall on the nation’s southern border. Nine departments are closed: Agriculture, Commerce, Justice, Homeland Security, Interior, State, Transportation, Treasury and Housing and Urban Development, as well as several agencies. Six departments had budgets approved earlier.
What’s the big issue?
The president, who campaigned on the issue of border security in 2016, wants money to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. The Senate passed a temporary funding bill that would keep government funding levels the same through February. Trump said he wouldn’t sign it because it did not include enough money for the wall.
The GOP-led House then cleared a bill that would meet the president’s $5 billion request for wall funding, but it fell flat in the Senate. The Senate requires 60 votes to pass legislation and Republicans have a narrow 51-49 majority, meaning they need nine Democrats to get on board with funding legislation. Democrats have so far refused to give him the money.
How are federal workers affected?
Because the partial shutdown fell over the weekend and Monday and Tuesday were federal holidays, most government employees haven’t felt the effects yet, but starting later this week 800,000 government employees who are not deemed “essential” will either be furloughed or forced to work without pay until the standoff is resolved. Congress is expected to vote to retroactively pay government employees, but that still means there is uncertainty about when paychecks will come next.
Some government employees shared their anxiety via Twitter using #ShutdownStories.
There are a lot of government services that have been put on hold until funding starts flowing in, including many national parks, farm service centers and some food safety inspections. (A fuller list of what is open is available here.)
What happens next?
After attempting to come to a compromise over the weekend, lawmakers called it quits and went home to spend Christmas with their families
The Senate is expected to reopen Thursday, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he won’t make lawmakers vote unless there is a compromise bill. So far, there is little incentive for House Democrats to come to the table because they’ll take over the majority Jan. 3. Nancy Pelosi, who is expected to be the speaker under Democratic control, told USA TODAY over the weekend, “One thing’s for sure, the first week of January we will be passing legislation to open up government.”
Where is the president?
Trump canceled his vacation to his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida and vented frustration about being stuck in Washington on Christmas Eve.
“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,” the president posted on Twitter Monday. “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.”
Later in the day Melania Trump returned to the White House from Florida and the pair answered calls from children calling into NORAD Tracks Santa.
“Nothing new on the shutdown,” the president said Monday night.
On Tuesday, Trump spoke to troops overseas to wish them a merry Christmas and vented frustration about the state of politics.
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”
Contributing: Nicole Gaudiano, John Fritze and David Jackson
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