Welcome to 2019! It’s a new year, but the same old shutdown, as the impasse between President Trump and congressional Democrats grinds through its 12th day. But with the holidays over and a new Congress set to be sworn in Thursday, President Trump invited eight congressional leaders to a Wednesday afternoon briefing about the border wall in the White House situation room — the first sign of direct talks between the parties since the partial shutdown began on December 22.
“Border Security and the Wall ‘thing’ and Shutdown is not where Nancy Pelosi wanted to start her tenure as Speaker! Let’s make a deal?” Trump tweeted Tuesday.
Wednesday’s meeting isn’t likely to lead to any breakthroughs, though.
“@realDonaldTrump has given Democrats a great opportunity to show how we will govern responsibly & quickly pass our plan to end the irresponsible #TrumpShutdown – just the first sign of things to come in our new Democratic Majority committed to working #ForThePeople,” Pelosi tweeted in response to Trump.
Democrats, set to take control of the House on Thursday, plan to pass six appropriations bills to fund most shuttered departments and agencies through the end of the fiscal year in September, at levels Senate Republicans have previously accepted. They also plan a separate bill funding the Department of Homeland Security until February 8, without providing additional border wall money that Trump wants. The White House called that plan a “nonstarter” and Trump has said he won’t sign off on bills to reopen the government unless he gets money for the wall, but he has failed to clarify just what that means.
As the president and Democratic leaders each try to ramp up the pressure on the other side, the government departments and agencies affected by the shutdown are reaching what Politico called “a breaking point in their ability to go on with minimal disruption.” Many departments and agencies that were able to use leftover funds to continue operating through the initial days of the shutdown have now run out of cash. The National Zoo and 19 Smithsonian museums are now closed, for example. And federal workers who got paid Friday for the pay period that ended December 22 now face the prospect that they’ll miss their next paycheck. The American Federation of Government Employees filed a lawsuit Monday against the Trump administration, alleging that the shutdown is illegally forcing more than 400,000 federal employees to work without pay.