Chances look slim for ending the partial government shutdown any time soon.
House lawmakers are being told not to expect further votes this week, all but ensuring the shutdown will enter a second week and stretch toward the new year.
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 both the House the Senate were slated to come into session briefly Thursday afternoon, few senators or representatives were expected to be around for it.
President Donald Trump is vowing to hold the line on his demand for money to build a border wall. Back from the 29-hour trip to visit U.S. troops, Trump tweeted Thursday that “we desperately need” a wall on the 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.”
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. A brief statement Thursday from the office of Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican, spoke to the dim prospect for a quick solution. “Members are advised that no votes are expected in the House this week,” the statement said. “Please stay tuned to future updates for more information.”
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.