news image

WASHINGTON — Republican leaders gave up hope on Thursday of reopening the government before the new year, leaving the border wall impasse to House Democrats — and possibly upending Representative Nancy Pelosi’s choreographed takeover of the House.

Departing House Republicans informed lawmakers that there would be no votes Friday or Monday and no relief for the 800,000 federal workers either furloughed or working without pay. House Democrats, who assume control on Thursday, are weighing three approaches to getting funds flowing, none of which would include money for President Trump’s proposed wall along the southwestern border.

Whichever path they choose, party leaders said they would vote promptly on Jan. 3, hoping to project the image of Democrats as a steadying hand in Washington and to raise the pressure on Mr. Trump and Republicans who control the Senate to end the standoff.

“If the Trump shutdown is not resolved by Jan. 3, then the Democratic-led House will put legislation on the floor to reopen the government and get to work for the American people,” Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the incoming majority leader, said in a statement on Thursday. “The president has not been a reliable negotiating partner and his positions change daily with his mood, but Democrats’ commitment to keeping government open and operating on behalf of the public remains unchanged.”

Ms. Pelosi is determined to prevent the shutdown brinkmanship from interfering with the Democrats’ assumption of power and her ceremony-soaked return to the speakership. But it appeared almost certain that the careful choreography would be at least partly eclipsed by the funding crisis, which on Thursday entered its sixth day.

The White House kept up its attacks on Democratic leaders. Though Mr. Trump said on national television that he would proudly shut down the government to secure wall funding, Republicans appeared determined to shift the blame to Democrats.

“The only rational conclusion is that the Democrat party is openly choosing to keep our government closed to protect illegal immigrants rather than the American people,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon. “The president does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our county’s safety and security.”

The planning for next week’s Democratic takeover was almost all that went on in the Capitol on Thursday, even as the Senate reconvened for the first time since before Christmas. With negotiations between the White House and Senate Democrats going nowhere, the session lasted only four minutes.

The House did not even meet, and Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the majority whip, told House members not to expect votes for the rest of the year. When Democrats sent Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts to the House floor to attempt to force consideration of a short-term stopgap funding bill already passed in the Senate, Republicans would not recognize him.

Back from a brief trip to visit troops overseas, Mr. Trump appeared to dig in on his demand that Congress approve $5 billion in additional funds as a down payment on the border wall. In a torrent of tweets and a formal statement from the White House, he accused Democrats of favoring permissive immigration laws and border security.

The jibes by Mr. Trump appeared to have troubled Democrats little. They say they are more than willing to approve substantial funding increases for security at the southern border, just not for the continuous physical barrier advocated by the president. Such a wall, they argue, is an ineffective and inefficient band aid for a broader immigration system that is in disrepair.

Read More


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here