Trump: ‘Shutdown would be a terrible thing’

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — President Trump on Wednesday said he does not want to see another government shutdown, the latest indication he may sign a spending agreement that includes just a fraction of the funds he demanded for a border wall.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump blasted Democrats as “stingy” for not meeting his target for wall funding but said “we have options that most people don’t really understand” to circumvent Congress and build the barrier.

“I don’t want to see a shutdown. Shutdown would be a terrible thing,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office during a meeting with Colombian President Iván Duque.

“I don’t want to see another one,” he added. “There’s no reason for it.”

Trump and his advisers have dropped hints he may sign the bipartisan spending agreement ever since Capitol Hill negotiators announced it on Monday evening, a decision that would please leaders in both political parties.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), the No. 4 House Democrat, earlier Wednesday predicted “the overwhelming majority” of his fellow party members would vote for the legislation following a caucus meeting where leaders sought to rally support for the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has also expressed hope Trump will sign the legislation, saying Tuesday, “I think he’s got a pretty good deal here.”

Lawmakers have yet to resolve disputes over related issues, such as an extension of the Violence Against Women Act and back pay for federal contractors, and the text remains incomplete with less than three days before the Feb. 15 funding deadline.

While the White House has indicated Trump will sign the measure, the president has stopped short of affirming he will do so. Trump on Wednesday said “we’ll be looking for landmines” when the legislative text arrives.

“We’ll take a very serious look at it,” he said.

The bipartisan agreement would provide $1.375 billion to build 55 miles of new barriers along the southern border, well short of Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion and less than what was included in a spending deal he rejected in December, which triggered a 35-day partial government shutdown that resulted in a massive hit to his approval ratings.

In exchange, Democrats dropped their demand for a hard cap on the number of immigrants that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is allowed to detain at a given time. Lawmakers instead included funding for an average of 45,000 detention beds over the fiscal year.

Trump on Wednesday sought to allay concerns from some conservatives who say the package does not fulfill his campaign promise to build a wall separating the U.S. from Mexico.

The president said the measure actually includes almost $23 billion for the border, even though that figure includes money for all security measures, including technology and personnel, in addition to the wall.

Trump also repeated his claim that his wall is already being built, despite the fact that the vast majority of construction happening now at the U.S.-Mexico border is to repair or replace existing barriers.
“I appreciate all the work the Republicans have done because they’re really going against a radical left. It’s a radical left. And they’re going against it very hard,” he said.

Conservative media figures, whose criticism of the December deal helped prompt Trump to shut down parts of the government, have offered a mixed reaction to the latest agreement.

Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter attacked the deal on Twitter, writing, “we thought Trump was going to be different” in response to House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows’ (R-N.C.) criticism of the compromise.

Others have given Trump some cover.

Fox News host Sean Hannity on Tuesday night called the measure “pathetic,” but added that he is “not as concerned as some other conservatives if the president signs the bill.”

Trump again on Wednesday floated the prospect of taking executive action to build the wall.

One proposal being floated by White House advisers is reprogramming certain federal funds, such as unused military-construction or disaster-relief dollars. That option would allow Trump to begin construction without taking the controversial step of declaring a national emergency while also skirting congressional approval.

“We have other things happening which people aren’t talking about. We’ve got a lot of funds for a lot of other things,” the president said Wednesday.

Trump, however, has not taken a national emergency declaration off the table.

Either move would almost certainly trigger a legal challenge that could stymie wall construction.

The House is expected to take up the funding bill on Thursday evening. If it passes, it would head to the Senate for another vote before it reaches the president’s desk. Roughly one-quarter of the government would shutter after midnight Friday if Trump does not sign the spending package.

The Hill’s Jordan Fabian contributed to the contents of this report.trumpredtiebluecoat

TRUMP TO DEMS: ‘No wall, no deal’

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday said he will not accept a deal to avoid another government shutdown unless funding to build a border wall between the southern U.S. border and Mexico is approved.

“No. Because if there’s no wall, it doesn’t work,” Trump told reporters, in response to continued Democratic opposition to the wall.

The president’s comments follow those of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) who said earlier Thursday that Democrats remain adamantly opposed to the wall’s funding or construction.

“There’s not going to be any wall money in the legislation,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill. “However, if they have some suggestions about certain localities where technology, some infrastructure [is appropriate] … that’s part of the negotiation.”

Trump had previously signaled that he may be open to calling structures along the border “steel slats” or a “barrier,” but returned Thursday to his demands of calling it a wall.

“Lets just call them WALLS from now on and stop playing political games! A WALL is a WALL!” he tweeted.

The president also took to Twitter to announce that more US troops are being brought in to protect the country’s southern border.

“More troops being sent to the Southern Border to stop the attempted Invasion of Illegals, through large Caravans, into our Country,” Trump wrote.

The president agreed to reopen the federal government last Friday amid weeks of shutdown after reaching a tentative 3-week agreement with Democrats to negotiate border security funding.

He vowed to use his presidential power to declare a national emergency and shut the government back down again if the funds are not approved within that period of time.

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‘NO DEAL’: McConnell blocks bill that would’ve reopened most of government

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked legislation on Wednesday that would reopen most of the government currently closed during the partial shutdown.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) went to the Senate floor to ask for consent to take up the House-passed bill that would fund every agency and department impacted by the partial shutdown, except the Department of Homeland Security, through Sept. 30.

McConnell, however, objected. It’s the fourth time he’s blocked the bill to reopen most of government that is currently closed. He’s also blocking, as recently as Tuesday, a House-passed bill to fund DHS through Feb. 8.

Democrats have been coming to the floor on a near daily basis while the Senate is in session to try to bring up the House package, even though the GOP leader has said he will not allow them to come to the Senate floor.

Under the Senate rules any one senator can try to pass a bill, but any one senator can also object.

The partial government shutdown, which is currently in its 33rd day, is impacting roughly a quarter of the government and forcing approximately 800,000 employees to work without pay or be furloughed.

The back-and-forth on the floor comes a day before the Senate is expected to hold votes on dueling proposals that would fully reopen the government.

The first proposal, which is backed by the White House, includes $5.7 billion for the wall in exchange for a three-year extension of protections for Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients and some Temporary Protected Status (TPS) holders.

McConnell is publicly pushing Democrats to support that proposal, even though it’s expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.

“The president went out of his way to include additional items that have been priority areas for Democrats,” McConnell said on Wednesday.

If that White House-backed measure does not get 60 votes, the Senate will then take a second vote on a proposal to temporarily reopen the government with a continuing resolution (CR) through Feb. 8.

Democrats say that Trump has to reopen the government before they will negotiate. They worry that making a deal while the government is closed would set the precedent for shutting down the government as a negotiating tactic.

But that bill is also unlikely to get 60 votes. The Senate passed a continuing resolution (CR) to fund a quarter of the government through Feb. 8 by voice vote late last year but Trump then came out against the measure.

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REPORT: Pelosi cancels Afghanistan trip, citing Trump ‘leak’

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying President Donald Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip.

It was the latest twist in what has become a Washington game of brinkmanship between Pelosi and Trump, playing out against the stalled negotiations over how to end the partial government shutdown.

Earlier in the week, Pelosi had asked Trump to reschedule his Jan. 29 State of the Union address, citing security issues at a time when the Homeland Security Department and other agencies remain unfunded.

Trump responded by canceling the military plane that was to have carried Pelosi and a congressional delegation to Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed troop visit. Trump suggested she travel by commercial plane instead.

Trump had belittled the trip as a “public relations event” — even though he had just made a similar warzone stop — and said it would be best if Pelosi remained in Washington to negotiate to reopen the government.

“Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” wrote Trump, who had been smarting since Pelosi, the day before, called on him to postpone State of the Union address.

On Friday, Pelosi announced that her plan to travel by commercial plane had been “leaked” by the White House.

Spokesman Drew Hammill said Pelosi and accompanying lawmakers were prepared to take a commercial flight but canceled after the State Department warned that publicity over the visit had “significantly increased the danger to the delegation and to the troops, security, and other officials supporting the trip.”

The White House said it had leaked nothing that would cause a security risk.

The political tit-for-tat between Trump and Pelosi laid bare how the government-wide crisis has devolved into an intensely pointed clash between two leaders determined to prevail. It took place as hundreds of thousands of federal workers go without pay and Washington’s routine protocols — a president’s speech to Congress, a lawmaker’s official trip — become collateral damage.

Denying military aircraft to a senior lawmaker — let alone the speaker, who is second in line to the presidency after the vice president, traveling to a combat region — is very rare.

Hammill said the speaker planned to travel to Afghanistan and Brussels to thank service members and obtain briefings on national security and intelligence “from those on the front lines.” He noted Trump had traveled to Iraq during the shutdown, which began Dec. 22, and said a Republican-led congressional trip also had taken place.

Trump’s trip to Iraq after Christmas was not disclosed in advance for security reasons.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California slammed Trump for revealing the closely held travel plans.

“I think the president’s decision to disclose a trip the speaker’s making to a war zone was completely and utterly irresponsible in every way,” Schiff said.

Some Republicans expressed frustration. Sen. Lindsey Graham tweeted, “One sophomoric response does not deserve another.” He called Pelosi’s State of the Union move “very irresponsible and blatantly political” but said Trump’s reaction was “also inappropriate.”

There have been few signs of progress in shutdown negotiations. On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and senior adviser Jared Kushner dashed to the Capitol late in the day for a meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. And the State Department instructed all U.S. diplomats in Washington and elsewhere to return to work next week with pay, saying it had found money for their salaries at least temporarily.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump wanted Pelosi to stay in Washington before Tuesday, a deadline to prepare the next round of paychecks for federal workers.

The White House also canceled plans for a presidential delegation to travel to an economic forum in Switzerland next week, citing the shutdown. And they said future congressional trips would be postponed until the shutdown is resolved, though it was not immediately clear if any such travel — which often is not disclosed in advance — was coming up.

Trump has still not said how he will handle Pelosi’s attempt to have him postpone his State of the Union address until the government is reopened so workers can be paid for providing security for the grand Washington tradition.

Pelosi told reporters earlier Thursday: “Let’s get a date when government is open. Let’s pay the employees. Maybe he thinks it’s OK not to pay people who do work. I don’t.”

Pelosi reiterated she is willing to negotiate money for border security once the government is reopened, but she said Democrats remain opposed to Trump’s long-promised wall.

The shutdown, the longest ever, entered its 28th day on Friday. The previous longest was 21 days in 1995-96, under President Bill Clinton.

In a notice to staff, the State Department said it can pay most of its employees beginning Sunday or Monday for their next pay period. They will not be paid for time worked since the shutdown began until the situation is resolved, said the notice.

The new White House travel ban did not extend to the first family.

About two hours after Trump grounded Pelosi and her delegation, an Air Force-modified Boeing 757 took off from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington with the call sign “Executive One Foxtrot,” reserved for the first family when the president is not traveling with them. It landed just before 7 p.m. at Palm Beach International Airport, less than 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the president’s private club.

A White House spokesperson did not answer questions about the flight.

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Associated Press writers Jon Lemire, Matthew Daly, Mary Clare Jalonick and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to the contents of this report.

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REPORT: Trump considering declaring national emergency in an effort to secure wall funding

WASHINGTON (ABC) — President Donald Trump said Friday he is considering declaring a national emergency to help pay for his long-desired border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president, when asked by ABC News’ senior national correspondent Terry Moran during a press conference, acknowledged that he would consider declaring a national emergency to help get funds to build the wall “for the security of our country”.

Trump did not elaborate on the details of such a process.

Earlier Friday, multiple sources familiar with the ongoing discussion told ABC News that options could include reprogramming funds from the Department of Defense and elsewhere – a move which would circumvent Congress.

Sources tell ABC News the discussions are still on the “working level” adding that there’s a range of legal mechanisms that are being considered before such a decision is announced.

The discussions have intensified as the president is now 14 days into a partial government shutdown, facing newly empowered House Democrats who are refusing to budge issue of wall funding. “We are not doing a wall,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday, calling the proposed structure an “immorality.”

The administration is holding meetings Friday, through the weekend and into next week, to continue discussions on next steps, according to officials.

It was not immediately clear who would be part of those meetings.

On Friday, the president said he had had a “productive” and “very, very good meeting” after talks with top Democrats and other congressional leaders at the White House in an effort to end the partial government shutdown now heading into the third week. Just minutes earlier, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters outside the White House that Trump told lawmakers in their nearly hour and a half meeting that he is prepared to keep the government closed “for a very long period of time, months or even years.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the meeting “contentious.”

One administration official described the current executive action under consideration as clearing the way for the construction of roughly 115 miles of new border wall strictly on land owned by DoD, which would make up roughly 5 percent of the more than 2,000-mile border.
There is also a good chance the president would face legal challenges.

This is not the first time the president has suggested using the military to build the wall, nor is it the first time he has suggested the situation amounts to a national emergency.

In December he tweeted he could use the military to build the wall if Democrats didn’t work with him.

Dec 11 tweet: “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall.

That same day he told Congressional leaders in the oval office “this is a national emergency.”

A previous DOD statement has mentioned the use of the Title 10 U.S. code as a way in which the military could construct a wall.

The relevant section of that code reads: “In the event of a declaration of war or the declaration by the President of a national emergency in accordance with the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) that requires use of the armed forces, the Secretary of Defense…may undertake military construction projects, and may authorize the Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

However, sources insist such a declaration would only be a partial solution and wouldn’t result in Trump compromising with Democrats on their series of funding bills aimed at ending the current government shutdown that includes no money allocated for a wall.

Some experts say the strategy may face an uphill battle.

“I don’t think that this is a real possibility given the restrictions already in place on how money can and cannot be used,” Todd Harrison a defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies told ABC News. “It is against the law to use money for purposes other than it was appropriated without getting prior approval from Congress. I don’t think declaring a national emergency would make a difference in this case, so I don’t think their theory holds much water. Moreover, the president is likely to meet stiff resistance from defense hawks within his own party if he tries to use billions of dollars of military funding for something other than military purposes.”

A House Democratic aide said it would be “completely unacceptable” for Trump to use national emergency authority to try and build the wall using military funds, and that Democrats would likely challenge the administration’s actions in court.

“If President Trump tries to use such thin legal authority to build his wall, Democrats will challenge him in court,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for House Appropriations chairwoman Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. “The president’s authority in this area is intended for wars and genuine national emergencies. Asserting this authority to build a wasteful wall is legally dubious and would likely invite a court challenge.”

A senior congressional official told ABC News that Pentagon lawyers informed Congress in 2018 that the president didn’t have the legal authority to use military money to build the wall. However, those conversations did not include discussions of declaring a national emergency, the official said.

A former member of the president’s inner circle believes the move is possible.

“The President has some limited authority to direct the Department of Defense to build portions of the barrier along the southern border,” Tom Bossert, Trump’s former Homeland Security adviser and current ABC News contributor said. “Depending on what approach he takes, every option available to him comes with some structural constraints and will be met with congressional opposition and legal action — even the very rare emergency authority that has garnered debate this week. Unless Congress acts, there is seemingly a significant limit to the amount of wall Department of Defense could build.”

The White House did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment for this story.

A Department of Defense spokesperson said: “The Department of Defense is reviewing available authorities and funding mechanisms to identify options to enable border barrier construction.”

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TRUMP: Shutdown could last for ‘months or even years’

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump declared Friday he could keep parts of the government shut down for “months or even years” as he and Democratic leaders failed in a second closed-door meeting to resolve his demand for billions of dollars for a border wall with Mexico. They did agree to a new round of weekend talks between staff members and White House officials.

Trump met in the White House Situation Room with congressional leaders from both parties as the shutdown hit the two-week mark amid an impasse over his wall demands. Democrats emerged from the roughly two-hour meeting, which both sides said was contentious at times, to report little if any progress.

The standoff also prompted economic jitters and anxiety among some in Trump’s own party. But he appeared in the Rose Garden to frame the upcoming weekend talks as progress, while making clear he would not reopen the government.

“We won’t be opening until it’s solved,” Trump said. “I don’t call it a shutdown. I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and the safety of our country.”

Trump said he could declare a national emergency to build the wall without congressional approval, but would first try a “negotiated process.” Trump previously described the situation at the border as a “national emergency” before he dispatched active-duty troops in what critics described as a pre-election stunt.

Trump also said the hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are furloughed or working without pay would want him to “keep going” and fight for border security. Asked how people would manage without a financial safety net, he declared: “The safety net is going to be having a strong border because we’re going to be safe.”

Democrats, on the other hand, spoke of families unable to pay bills and called on Trump to reopen the government while negotiations continue. Senate Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “It’s very hard to see how progress will be made unless they open up the government.”

Friday’s White House meeting with Trump included eight congressional leaders — the top two Democrats and Republicans of both chambers. People familiar with the session but not authorized to speak publicly described Trump as holding forth at length on a range of subjects but said he made clear he was firm in his demand for $5.6 billion in wall funding and in rejecting the Democrats’ request to reopen the government.

Trump confirmed that he privately told Democrats the shutdown could drag on for months or years, though he said he hoped it wouldn’t last that long. Said Trump: “I hope it doesn’t go on even beyond a few more days.”

House Democrats muscled through legislation Thursday night to fund the government but not Trump’s proposed wall. However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said those measures are non-starters on his side of the Capitol without the president’s support.

A variety of strategies are being floated inside and outside the White House, among them trading wall funding for a deal on immigrants brought to the country as young people and now here illegally, or using a national emergency declaration to build the wall. While Trump made clear during his press conference that talk on DACA (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) would have to wait and that he was trying to negotiate with Congress on the wall, the conversations underscored rising Republican anxiety about just how to exit the shutdown.

Seeking to ease concerns, the White House sought to frame the weekend talks as a step forward, as did McConnell, who described plans for a “working group,” though people familiar with the meeting said that phrase never actually came up. Trump designated Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and adviser Jared Kushner to work with a congressional delegation over the weekend. That meeting is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, the White House said.

Some GOP senators up for re-election in 2020 voiced discomfort with the shutdown in recent days, including Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine, putting additional pressure on Republicans.

But with staff level talks there is always an open question of whether Trump’s aides are fully empowered to negotiate for the president. Earlier this week, he rejected his own administration’s offer to accept $2.5 billion for the wall. That proposal was made when Pence and other top officials met at the start of the shutdown with Schumer.

During his free-wheeling session with reporters, Trump also wrongly claimed that he’d never called for the wall to be concrete. Trump did so repeatedly during his campaign, describing a wall of pre-cast concrete sections that would be higher than the walls of many of his rally venues. He repeated that promise just days ago.

“An all concrete Wall was NEVER ABANDONED, as has been reported by the media. Some areas will be all concrete but the experts at Border Patrol prefer a Wall that is see through (thereby making it possible to see what is happening on both sides). Makes sense to me!,” he tweeted on Dec. 31.

Trump was joined by Pence in the Rose Garden, as well as House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise. McConnell, who went back to the Capitol, unaware of the press conference, said it was encouraging that the White House officials and the congressional contingent would meet over the weekend “to see if they can reach an agreement and then punt it back to us for final sign off.”

Schumer said that if McConnell and Senate Republicans stay on the sidelines, “Trump can keep the government shut down for a long time.”

“The president needs an intervention,” Schumer said. “And Senate Republicans are just the right ones to intervene.”Graphic shows federal funding gaps of at least two days since 1976.
Adding to national unease about the shutdown are economic jitters as analysts warn of the risks of closures that are disrupting government operations across multiple departments and agencies at a time of other uncertainties in the stock market and foreign trade.

In their first votes of the new Congress, House Democrats approved bills Thursday night to re-open government at previously agreed upon levels. Several Republicans crossed over to join them.

White House and Department of Homeland Security officials have spent recent days trying to make both a public and private case that the situation at the border has reached a crisis point. Polls show a majority of Americans oppose the border wall, although Republicans strongly support it.

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Associated Press writers Alan Fram, Mary Clare Jalonick, Laurie Kellman, Kevin Freking, Matthew Daly, Deb Riechmann and Eileen Putman contributed to the contents of this report.

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‘NO DEAL’: White House and Dem battle over government shutdown rages on, says Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Chances look slim for ending the partial government shutdown any time soon.

Lawmakers are away from Washington for the holidays and have been told they will get 24 hours’ notice before having to return for a vote. And although the Senate is slated to come into session Thursday afternoon, few senators were expected to be around for it.

After a weekend and two holiday days for federal employees, Wednesday was the first regularly scheduled workday affected by the closure of a variety of federal services.
Trump vowed to hold the line on his budget demand, telling reporters during his visit to Iraq on Wednesday that he’ll do “whatever it takes” to get money for border security. He declined to say how much he would accept in a deal to end the shutdown.

“You have to have a wall, you have to have protection,” he said.

Back from the 29-hour trip to visit U.S. troops, Trump said in a Thursday tweet “we desperately need” a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, funding for which has been a flashpoint between the White House and Congress ever since Trump took office.

He called on Democrats in Congress to fund his wall, saying the shutdown affects their supporters. He asserted without evidence: “Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?”

Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner called Trump’s comments “outrageous.” In his tweet, he added: “Federal employees don’t go to work wearing red or blue jerseys. They’re public servants. And the President is treating them like poker chips at one of his failed casinos.”

The shutdown started Saturday when funding lapsed for nine Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies. Roughly 420,000 workers were deemed essential and are working unpaid, while an additional 380,000 have been furloughed.

While the White House was talking to congressional Democrats — and staff talks continued on Capitol Hill — negotiations dragged Wednesday, dimming hopes for a swift breakthrough.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a Trump ally who has been involved in the talks, said the president “is very firm in his resolve that we need to secure our border.” He told CNN, “If they believe that this president is going to yield on this particular issue, they’re misreading him.”

The impasse over government funding began last week, when the Senate approved a bipartisan deal keeping government open into February. That bill provided $1.3 billion for border security projects but not money for the wall. At Trump’s urging, the House approved that package and inserted the $5.7 billion he had requested.

But Senate Republicans lacked the votes they needed to force the measure through their chamber. That jump-started negotiations between Congress and the White House, but the deadline came and went without a deal.

The shutdown has been playing out against the backdrop of turmoil in the stock market.

Kevin Hassett, the chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the shutdown does not change the administration’s expectation for strong growth heading into 2019. He told reporters a shutdown of a few weeks is not going to have any “significant effect on the outlook.”

Among those affected by the shutdown — the third of 2018 — are the departments of Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice. Those being furloughed include 52,000 workers at the Internal Revenue Service and nearly everyone at NASA. About 8 in 10 employees of the National Park Service are staying home, and many parks have closed.

The shutdown didn’t stop people from visiting the White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico, where hundreds of unauthorized visitors have in recent days climbed over a fence to enter the monument, according to The Alamogordo Daily News. State highway workers were sent to the area Monday to erect “no parking” signs along U.S. 70 outside the monument.

Trump has claimed federal workers are behind him in the shutdown fight, saying many told him, “stay out until you get the funding for the wall.’” He didn’t say who told him that. Many workers have gone to social media with stories of the financial hardship they expect to face because of the shutdown.

One union representing federal workers slammed Trump’s claim. Paul Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, said the union has not heard from a single member who supports Trump’s position.

“Most view this as an act of ineptitude,” he said.

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Associated Press writers Zeke Miller, Paul Davenport, Juliet Linderman, Darlene Superville contributed to the contents of this report.

President Trump Attends Discussion On Federal Commission On School Safety Report

‘SHUT HER DOWN’: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul says he won’t back spending bill despite threat of government shutdown

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced Tuesday that he will refuse to back a spending bill that, if passed, would provide the funds needed to allow the federal government to continue operation without shutting down.

“I cannot in good conscience vote to add more to the already massive $20 trillion debt. I promised Kentucky to vote against reckless, deficit spending and I will do just that,” Paul said in a tweet (https://twitter.com/RandPaul/status/940639780911665153?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Ftownhall.com%2Ftipsheet%2Fleahbarkoukis%2F2017%2F12%2F12%2Fpaul-explains-vote-spending-bill-n2421559).

“The end-of-the-year spending bill will continue spending money like there’s no tomorrow,” Paul said in a video accompanying the tweet in which he criticises the proposed legislation.

Paul’s comments come after lawmakers last week approved a two-week spending bill to temporarily sustain the operation of government, but the Congressional budget office says a long-term spending bill is required in order to keep the federal government operating beyond December 22.

A previous analysis of the proposed legislation (http://thehill.com/policy/finance/362649-jct-says-senate-tax-bill-will-add-1t-to-deficits-even-with-growth) estimated that, should the bill pass, it would add roughly $1 trillion to the national deficit over the course of the next decade.

Paul, who voted in favor of the Republican tax bill last month, said the two pieces of legislation are as different as night and day.

“Tax cuts — people keeping more of their money — are never the problem, Paul said in a follow-up tweet. “The problem is spending. We should obey our rules, stop the deficit spending, and shrink government.”

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STANDING FIRM: Trump doubles down over threat to shut down government over funding of border wall

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump on Thursday doubled down on threats to shut down the federal government if Congress fails to pass funding to build a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Trump, who heavily campaigned on a promise to build a wall along the southern border of the U.S. if elected, said building a wall is not a matter of racism, but of national security.

“We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall,” Trump said to a crowd of cheering supporters at a Phoenix rally on Tuesday.

“Build the wall! Build the wall,” the crowd chanted in response.

As a Sept. 30 deadline approaches to continue funding the government, the president on Thursday reiterated his vow that, should Congress failed to pass a funding resolution, the government would shut down.

“Anybody who’s surprised by that has not been paying attention for over two years,” Trump administration aide Kellyanne Conway said told Fox News on Thursday. “So he’s telling Congress he’s building the wall, he expects the funding, and it’s up to them to work collaboratively. We hope they do.”

On Twitter, the president attacked GOP leaders, claiming they had ignored his instructions on debt ceiling legislation, which he referred to as a “mess.”

“I requested that Mitch M & Paul R tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval. They…..didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy-now a mess!” the president wrote of House Speaker Paul Ryan, (R)-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R)-Ky.

Last May, Trump’s 2018 budget proposal for border security asked for $2.6 billion, of which $1.6 billion of it would go to begin construction for a southern border wall. However, according to estimates, construction costs for the wall could reach as high as $15 billion (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-immigration-wall-exclusive-idUSKBN15O2ZN).

In addition to building the wall, Trump campaigned heavily on the promise of making Mexico pay for it. Thus far, the Mexican government has refused to do so. As a result, the president said he will force Mexico to reimburse the U.S. for the border wall through a series of economic and trade sanctions to recoup the cost. Until then, the president says funding of the wall through the use of U.S. tax dollars is a priority and must be approved by Congress.

Democrats were quick to lash out against the president over his threats to shut down the government on Thursday, with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi leading a strong opposition to his demands.

“Last night, President Trump yet again threatened to cause chaos in the lives of millions of Americans if he doesn’t get his way. Make no mistake: the President said he will purposefully hurt American communities to force American taxpayers to fund an immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall,” Pelosi said in a released statement (http://www.democraticleader.gov/newsroom/82317/).

“The last time Republicans shut down the government, their callous recklessness cost the American economy $24 billion and 120,000 jobs. With a Republican House, Senate and Administration, Republicans have absolutely no excuses for threatening America’s families with a destructive and pointless government shutdown,” the statement continued.

“President Trump’s multi-billion dollar border wall boondoggle is strongly opposed by Democrats and many Republicans. Democrats will stand fast against the immoral, ineffective border wall and the rest of Republicans’ unacceptable poison pill riders.”

Rep. Don Beyer (D) – Va., echoed Pelosi’s comments on Twitter.

“Trump threatens to shut down the government unless we vote to put taxpayers on the hook for a wall he promised Mexico would pay for. Nope,” Beyer tweeted.

For his part, Speaker Ryan seemed unconcerned with the President’s comments when asked about them during a stop in Oregon.

“I don’t think a government shutdown is necessary, and I don’t think most people want to see a government shutdown, ourselves included,” Ryan said.

When asked whether he thinks the president will follow through on his threats Ryan said he thinks Trump is merely “employing a strategy that he thinks is effective for him.”

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