On Christmas Eve, Trump airs more grievances

Geraldine Edwards
December 25, 2018

Both the US House and Senate scheduled rare sessions yesterday for the politicians who rarely work weekends.

President Donald Trump's incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the partial government shutdown could continue into next year. Several Cabinet departments and agencies have been closed since Saturday after their funding lapsed.

Mulvaney, who is also director of the White House budget office, said he's awaiting word from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY after the administration on Saturday presented Schumer with a counteroffer in the long-running dispute over funding the wall.

Monday and Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively, are federal holidays, meaning much of the federal government would already be closed. That means Wednesday is the first day the public could begin to feel the effects of lost government services, Mulvaney said.

The current Congress reassembles on Thursday after the Christmas holiday.

US Democratic leaders charged Monday that President Donald Trump was "plunging the country into chaos" with multiple crises and said he was offering no way to end a government shutdown. "This is politics, not policy". Asked whether he's willing to offer more money as long as it is not spent on a wall, Durbin responded: "Absolutely".

Across the country, the shutdown played out in uneven ways.

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Byungsuk Ko / EyeEm via Getty Images The Statue of Liberty will remain open after an emergency injection of state funds.

More than 400,000 federal employees are reporting to their jobs on Monday but won't get their salaries, while almost 400,000 others "will be locked out of work with no pay", the American Federation of Government Employees union said.

The Transportation Security Administration will be on the job to screen passengers, and Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers will be directing planes.

Those deemed "essential" are spared but employees of the rest (around 40%) are placed on unpaid leave and told not to work. Legislation ensuring workers receive back pay was expected to clear Congress. But they didn't rule out action if a deal were struck.

A day earlier, Trump tweeted that he was in the White House "working hard" to find a solution but that "it could be a long stay". No Republican leaders or any Democrats, all needed for any deal, attended the meal.

On Saturday it was reported that the new White House request includes $2.5 billion for border security funding that would incorporate fencing construction and an additional $400 million for other Trump immigration priorities. "Instead of bringing certainty into people's lives, he's continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts". This past week he said he would be "proud" to close down the government.

Left-wing activist and transgender military veteran Charlotte Clymer to start a competing GoFundMe campaign on December 19 called "Ladders to Get Over Trump's Wall" to raise money for illegal aliens trying to seek asylum in the U.S.

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"When everybody leaves town, it takes the pressure off for a deal", said New York Representative Lee Zeldin, a Republican, one of the few lawmakers lingering in the Capitol on Sunday.

In a 1995-96 political battle, Democratic president Bill Clinton bested Speaker Newt Gingrich and his band of budget-slashing conservatives, who were determined to use a shutdown to force Clinton to sign onto a balanced budget agreement.

The president canceled his Christmas vacation to his Florida resort because of the impasse with Congress. Democrats say a wall is wasteful and ineffective.

Mulvaney sent agency heads a memorandum telling them to "execute plans for an orderly shutdown" - though he wrote that administration officials are "hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration".

Corker suggested that a deal could be reached if Trump were prepared to give ground on Democrats´ demand to protect the status of the "Dreamers" - Latinos who, as children, arrived illegally in the United States with their parents.

President Trump is calling out the hypocrisy of Democrats as they refuse to back border wall funding amid the government shutdown.

Those being furloughed included almost everyone at NASA and 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service.

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