29 December, 2018
Democrats are holding firm in the standoff over a border wall, saying they won't seriously consider any White House offer to end the government shutdown until it has a public endorsement from President Donald Trump.
On Thursday, the House and Senate gaveled in for sessions lasting only minutes, with no mention of the work stoppage or any possible resolution.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders accused Democrats of "openly choosing to keep our government closed to protect illegal immigrants rather than the American people".
Rep. Mark Meadows, a close ally of President Donald Trump, told CNN's Dana Bash that negotiations "have not progressed" over the past 24 to 48 hours.
As long as the wall debate holds up approval of a wider spending bill, about 800,000 federal employees are not getting salaries and non-essential parts of the government are unable to function.
The House passed a stopgap funding bill on December 20 that included $5.7 billion to construct a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border, however, with a 51-seat majority, Republicans fell short of the necessary 60 votes needed to send it to President Donald Trump's desk for signature. They singled out Nancy Pelosi, who is set to become the speaker of the House of Representatives next week, when the Democrats will take over majority control of the House.
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Trump had planned to spend Christmas at his private club in Florida, but stayed behind in Washington due to the shutdown. As the plane neared Iraq, all the lights went out inside Air Force One, and the window shades were lowered.
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Trump appears to have been influenced by uber-conservative members of the media when he backtracked on his support for a government funding deal last week and propelled the federal government into shutdown mode just days before Christmas.
When pressed on whether that offer would have called for Pence, White House Office of Management and Budget Director and Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to sit down face-to-face with Schumer and Pelosi - who likely will be speaker on January 3 - the official declined to discuss specifics. He tweeted Thursday evening that Democrats may be able to block him now, "but we have the issue, Border Security".
Since then, chances of a reopening before the new Congress is seated are grim, according to reports that suggest Trump is not even speaking with Congressional leaders.
Opponents, especially in the Democratic party but also some in Trump's Republican party, say that a physical wall is impractical and that the idea is being used as a political tool to whip up xenophobia in Trump's right-wing voter base.
Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney complained that Democrats were ignoring an offer from the White House to agree to lower funding levels compared to Trump's initial goal of $5 billion to build the wall.