The two Congressional Democratic leaders are blaming President Donald Trump for “plunging the country into chaos” on Christmas Eve – when, according to the carol, all is supposed to be “calm and bright.”
“The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve after he just fired the secretary of defense,” Senator Chuck Schumer and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday.
“The president wanted the shutdown, but seems not to know how to get himself out of it,” they wrote in a joint statement.
Schumer and Pelosi were referring to the partial federal government shutdown which enters its fourth day on Christmas, with no clear end in sight.
Trump is demanding $5 billion for a wall along the U.S. – Mexican border. Democrats say no way and have offered $1.3 billion for what they call border security.
The president canceled his Christmas vacation to his Florida resort because of the impasse with Congress.
“I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,” he tweeted Monday. “At some point, the Democrats not wanting to make a deal will cost our Country more than the Border Wall we are all talking about. Crazy.”
Another Trump tweet claimed “virtually every Democrat” strongly supported a “Border Wall or Fence” but turned against the idea after he made it an important part of his campaign for president.
Most Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have rallied around Trump’s demand.
“One would think that securing our homeland, controlling our borders and protecting the American people, would be bipartisan priorities…a core duty of any nation’s government,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said of Kentucky has said.
In the past, Democrats have been flexible on additional border security funding, including money for a wall, as part of a larger deal on thorny immigration issues.
Earlier this year, Democrats were willing to support wall funding in return for protections for so-called “Dreamers” – illegal immigrants brought to America as children a deal Trump initially hailed but later abandoned.
Democrats say saying Trump was willing to sign a deal to keep the government operating without the full $5 billion, but backed out after those Schumer calls “right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts” complained.
“Different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept…making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment,” Schumer and Pelosi said.
What is certain, though, is the government will remain closed at least through Thursday and, according to acting Chief of Staff Nick Mulvaney, into 2019.
While government agencies dealing with national security and public safety remain open, other offices are closed and 800,000 federal workers are on furlough. Those who are considered to be essential employees are reporting for duty, but are working for no pay.
Congress has always approved back pay for all federal workers after past shutdowns.