White House digs in on border wall demand

Tuesday, 18 Dec, 2018

The House does not meet until this Wednesday evening, leaving little time before funding for the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department expires Friday at midnight. Congress could move to order that furloughed employees be paid retroactively after the shutdown is over, but that is not guaranteed.

The federal government may be partially shut down later this week if President Donald Trump doesn't get the $5 billion he's demanding from Congress for a wall along the southern US border that he claimed Mexico would pay for.

But according to a fact sheet released by the Democratic staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, more than 420,000 government workers are expected to work without pay if a partial shutdown occurs, including more than 41,000 federal law enforcement and correctional officers.

"Look, it's demoralizing. It really is", said Rep. Anthony Brown, a Democrat who represents more than 50,000 federal workers in Maryland's 4th District, which includes parts of Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties. Brown said he understands the nervousness of those who rely on a federal paycheck.

Schumer was willing to let the argument rest there, but Trump dug in, saying repeatedly that he'd shut the government down and happily take the blame.

Meanwhile, more than 380,000 employees will be furloughed - including almost all of NASA and Housing and Urban Development and 41,000 Commerce Department employees.

In all, about 75 per cent of discretionary spending for the budget year that began October 1 has already been approved by lawmakers and signed by the president.

At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, on the other hand, 87 percent of the agency's 7,800 employees would be sent home.

The money would not go for the wall but for fencing upgrades and other border security.

White House digs in on border wall demand
White House digs in on border wall demand

But the $5 billion down payment Trump wants for the $20 billion wall is adamantly opposed by Democrats and some Republicans, leaving its fate in doubt.

An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll released earlier this month found 57 per cent of the country wants Trump to "compromise on the border wall to prevent gridlock", while 36 per cent say he should not compromise on the wall "even if it means a government shutdown". Democrats also offered to simply keep funding at its current level, $1.3 billion.

With just days until the government funding deadline, the two big immigration questions to ask are whether congressional Republicans can actually negotiate border wall funding and how effective they'll allow a hypothetical wall to be.

Will a shutdown affect airports and holiday travel?

There are more than 50,000 TSA employees nationwide.

What would happen to national parks?

A view of the "Crested Pool" hot spring in Wyoming's Yellowstone National Park in June 2011.

The US Postal Service, which is delivering a flurry of packages ahead of Christmas, will not be affected because it is an independent agency. The administration and congressional Democrats appeared to be no closer to reaching an agreement over the weekend. "We've seen this movie too many times".

A top Republican senator voiced hope that a shutdown could be averted - contrasting with the hard-line position Trump and Miller have taken. Sen.

Even though the country faces a much smaller shutdown than the last major one, in 2013, plenty of Americans would take notice.