The partial U.S. government shutdown entered its fifth day on Wednesday as the White House and lawmakers remain at odds over President Donald Trump’s demands to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
There’s little indication of any urgency to resolve the dispute and no public indication of following Tuesday’s Christmas holiday in the U.S. Trump is demanding $5 billion for a border wall while Democratic leaders have proposed $1.3 billion for border security.
Congressional leaders were out of town for the Christmas holiday while Trump remained at the White House.
Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that the government is “not gonna be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it.”
Asked whether his demand for $5 billion was negotiable, Trump said, “it’s complicated.” He added: “We have some wall money, but we want the wall money to be increased.”
Asked what he would do if the House passes a bill that doesn’t fund a wall, Trump said, “that’s probably presidential harassment, and we know how to handle that,” using a term his allies coined to describe anticipated Democratic investigations of the Trump administration.
The president said federal workers who have been furloughed “want the wall.” “They understand what’s happening. They want border security,” Trump said after he was asked what message he had for workers affected by the shutdown.
Democratic leaders in the House and Senate have been negotiating with the Trump administration. Once they reach agreement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll seek a vote on the deal.
If the shutdown lasts past Jan. 3, when Democrats take control of the House, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is in line to become speaker, said the chamber will pass a spending bill to reopen the government — without money for a wall.
The shutdown, which began Saturday, affects nine of 15 federal departments, dozens of agencies and hundreds of thousands of workers.
Among the departments without funding are: Justice, Homeland Security, Interior and Treasury. Independent agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, are also affected.
The departments whose funding lapsed represent about a quarter of the $1.24 trillion in government discretionary spending for fiscal year 2019.
An estimated 400,000 federal employees will work without pay and 350,000 will now be furloughed, according to a congressional Democratic aide.
The remaining parts of the government, including the Defense Department, Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services, were already funded and won’t be affected by the shutdown, nor will mandatory entitlement programs like Medicare payments.