Advertisement

Trump, Democrats continue trading blame for partial government shutdown

Click to play video: 'Trump threatens to close southern border if Democrats don’t back down over border wall funding' Trump threatens to close southern border if Democrats don’t back down over border wall funding
WATCH: Trump threatens to close southern border if Democrats don’t back down over border wall funding – Dec 28, 2018

President Donald Trump and Democrats are trading blame for the partial government shutdown but doing little substantive talking with each other, as the disruption in federal services and public employees’ pay slogs into another weekend.

Trump upped the brinkmanship by threatening anew to close the border with Mexico to press Congress to cave to his demand for money to pay for a wall. Democrats vowed to pass legislation restoring the government as soon as they take control of the House on Thursday, but that won’t accomplish anything unless Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate go along with it.

READ MORE: Donald Trump blames deaths of migrant children at U.S. border on Democrats

Cooped up in the White House after canceling his planned vacation to his private Florida club, Trump tweeted Saturday that he’s “in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Border Security.” But there has been little direct contact between the sides during the stalemate, and Trump did not ask Republicans, who hold a monopoly on power in Washington for another five days, to keep Congress in session.

Story continues below advertisement

The president did leave the White House on Friday night to join the three men at the center of the negotiations, Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, for dinner at Pence’s residence at the Naval Observatory.

WATCH: Congress ‘stuck’ as U.S. government shutdown lingers

Click to play video: 'Congress ‘stuck’ as U.S. government shutdown lingers: Republicans' Congress ‘stuck’ as U.S. government shutdown lingers: Republicans
Congress ‘stuck’ as U.S. government shutdown lingers: Republicans – Dec 28, 2018

As he called for Democrats to negotiate on the wall, Trump brushed off blame that his administration bore any responsibility for the recent deaths of two migrant children in Border Patrol custody. Trump claimed the deaths were “strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally.” His comments on Twitter came as his Homeland Security secretary met with medical professionals and ordered policy changes meant to better protect children detained at the border.

Story continues below advertisement

Meanwhile, the effects to the public of the impasse grew as the Environmental Protection Agency, which had the money to function a week longer than some agencies, implemented its shutdown plan at midnight Friday night. EPA spokeswoman Molly Block said many of the agency’s 14,000 employees were being furloughed, while disaster-response teams and certain other employees deemed essential would stay on the job. That includes workers needed for preventing immediate public health threats at more than 800 Superfund hazardous-waste sites.

READ MORE: Democrats poised to take over House amid U.S. government shutdown

Also running short on money: the Smithsonian Institution, which said its museums, art galleries and zoo in the capital will close starting midweek if the partial shutdown drags on.

But federal flood insurance policies will continue to be issued and renewed, in a reversal prompted by pressure from lawmakers, said Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

Trump appeared no closer to securing money for his signature border wall, which he vowed during the campaign that he would make Mexico pay for. He’s failed to do so. Now Democratic leaders are adamant that they will not authorize money for the project, calling it wasteful and ineffective. They show no signs of bending, either.

“We are far apart,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CBS on Friday.

WATCH: No end in sight for U.S. government shutdown

Click to play video: 'No end in sight for U.S. government shutdown' No end in sight for U.S. government shutdown
No end in sight for U.S. government shutdown – Dec 27, 2018

Trump tweeted: “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with.” He also threatened to cut off U.S. aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, among countries he deems have not done enough to combat illegal immigration.

Story continues below advertisement

He’s made similar threats in the past without following through, and it is Congress, not the president, that appropriates aid money.

The shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors to stay home or work without pay.

Mulvaney said Democrats are no longer negotiating with the administration over an earlier offer by the White House to accept less than the $5 billion Trump wants for the wall.

READ MORE: U.S. government shutdown likely to go into second week

Democrats said the White House offered to accept $2.5 billion for border security, but that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence that it wasn’t acceptable. It was also not guaranteed that Trump would settle for that amount.

“There’s not a single Democrat talking to the president of the United States about this deal,” Mulvaney said Friday.

Speaking on Fox News and later to reporters, he tried to drive a wedge between Democrats, pinning the blame on House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

Mulvaney said Schumer was “really interested in doing a deal and coming to some sort of compromise” but he understood that Pelosi was at risk of losing the speakership of the House if she went along. “So we’re in this for the long haul,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH: DC restaurant offers free burgers to furloughed government workers

Click to play video: 'DC restaurant offers free burgers to furloughed government workers' DC restaurant offers free burgers to furloughed government workers
DC restaurant offers free burgers to furloughed government workers – Dec 28, 2018

In fact, Pelosi has all but locked up the support she needs to win the speaker’s gavel after the new Congress convenes on Thursday, and there has been no sign that she and Schumer are in conflict.

“For the White House to try and blame anyone but the president for this shutdown doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer.

Pelosi has vowed to pass legislation to reopen the nine shuttered departments and dozens of agencies now hit by the partial shutdown as soon as she takes the gavel. But that alone won’t solve the shutdown, absent Senate approval and Trump’s signature.

WATCH: Effort to end partial U.S. government shutdown by Jim McGovern denied on House floor

Click to play video: 'Effort to end partial U.S. government shutdown by Jim McGovern denied on House floor' Effort to end partial U.S. government shutdown by Jim McGovern denied on House floor
Effort to end partial U.S. government shutdown by Jim McGovern denied on House floor – Dec 27, 2018

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill added that Democrats are united against the wall and won’t seriously consider any White House offer unless Trump backs it publicly because he “has changed his position so many times.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reacted cautiously to Trump’s threat to close the border, calling it an “internal affair of the U.S. government.”

“We are always seeking a good relationship with the United States. We do not want to be rash,” he said.

Sponsored content