People walk up the steps even though the National Archives is closed with the partial government shutdown, Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018 in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

White House: Trump would accept less money for border wall

A stalemate over the wall led parts of the government to shut down Saturday, Dec. 22

Both sides in the long-running fight over funding President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall appear to have moved toward each other, but a shutdown of one-fourth of the federal government entered Christmas without a clear resolution in sight.

In fact, a top White House official warned the shutdown could stretch into January.

READ MORE: Government shutdown disrupts 800,000 federal employees

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who is also the budget director, said he was waiting to hear from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York about a counteroffer the White House presented Schumer over the weekend.

Mulvaney would only say the offer was between Trump’s $5.7 billion request and $1.3 billion Democrats have offered.

“We moved off of the five and we hope they move up from their 1.3,” Mulvaney said less than a day after a senior administration official insisted that Congress would have to cave into Trump’s demand for the shutdown to end, highlighting Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style.

Schumer’s office said the parties remained “very far apart.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., argued for increased use of technology along the border instead of “some medieval wall.” Asked whether he’s willing to offer more money as long as it is not spent on a wall, Durbin responded: “Absolutely.”

READ MORE: Trump backs off on demand for $5 billion to build border wall

A stalemate over the wall led parts of the government to shut down Saturday after funding for numerous departments and agencies expired. The closure affects hundreds of thousands of federal workers across the country and was expected to last at least through Thursday, when the House and Senate meet again.

Monday and Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively, are federal holidays, meaning the government would have been closed anyway. That means Wednesday is the first day the public could begin to feel the effects of lost government services, Mulvaney said.

He predicted the shutdown could go into January, when Democrats assume control of the House based on their midterm election gains.

“It’s very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” Mulvaney said.

Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer, countered: “If Director Mulvaney says the Trump Shutdown will last into the New Year, believe him, because it’s their shutdown.” Trump recently declared he’d be “proud” to shut down the government over border issues.

Democrats held firm Sunday in opposition to a wall, which Trump promised his political base he would build. Mulvaney said “the president’s not going to not accept money for a border wall.”

Trump tweeted Sunday, the shutdown’s second day, that what’s needed is “a good old fashioned WALL that works,” not aerial drones or other measures that “are wonderful and lots of fun” but not the answer to address drugs, gangs, human trafficking and other criminal elements entering the country.

RELATED: Trump visits California, inspects border wall prototypes

He put off plans to spend Christmas at his Florida estate and remained in Washington.

The routines of about 800,000 federal employees, meanwhile, were about to be disrupted.

More than half of those employees are deemed essential, such as U.S. Secret Service agents and Transportation Security Administration airport agents, must work without pay, though retroactive pay is expected. Another 380,000 were to be furloughed, meaning they will not report to work but would be paid later. Legislation ensuring that workers receive back pay was expected to clear Congress.

Trump had savored the prospect of a shutdown over the wall, saying he’d be “proud” to force one over an issue that was one of his biggest campaign promises. He had said he wouldn’t blame Democrats for a shutdown but now blames them for not contributing to the 60 votes needed for such legislation to clear the closely divided Senate.

But Democrats aren’t the only ones resisting Trump on the wall. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who is leaving Congress in January and has criticized Trump on other issues in the past, called the border-wall fight a “made-up fight so the president can look like he’s fighting.”

“This is something that is unnecessary. It’s a spectacle. And, candidly, it’s juvenile. The whole thing is juvenile,” Corker said, arguing for measures that he said would secure the border better than a wall.

Democrats said they were open to proposals that don’t include a wall, which Schumer said is costly and ineffective. They have offered to keep spending at existing levels of $1.3 billion for border fencing and other security.

Senators have approved a bipartisan deal to keep the government open into February and provide $1.3 billion for border security projects, but not the wall. But as Trump faced criticism from conservatives for “caving” on a campaign promise, he pushed the House to approve a package temporarily financing the government but also setting aside $5.7 billion for the border wall. That bill lacks the votes to pass the Senate.

The stalemate blocked money for nine of 15 Cabinet-level departments and dozens of agencies, including Homeland Security, Transportation, Interior, Agriculture, State and Justice.

The Pentagon and the departments of Veterans Affairs and Health and Human Services are among those that Congress has fully funded and will operate as usual.

Mulvaney appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and ABC’s “This Week.” Durbin spoke on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and Corker was interviewed on “State of the Union” on CNN.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta vehicles allegedly damaged in Summerland

Lug nuts loosened, windows smashed in several instances in Okanagan community

Two people die in outdoor shower, in Tulameen

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

VIDEO: Crews in Summerland film Christmas parade in July

Filming, on July 31, took place during the hottest days of 2020

UPDATE: More personnel at Dry Lake fire, 43 properties remain under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for three days

Princeton man faces charges after allegedly receiving ‘drunk driving’ lesson

The incident happened in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 1

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Passengers escape unharmed from destructive houseboat fire in Shuswap

Cause of blaze on Mara Lake under investigation, flames erupt at 2 a.m. Aug. 4

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Former Kelowna resident makes fundraising goal for cancer fertility treatments

Rebecca Hamilton recieved a boost in a battle against cancer - $25,000 for post chemo treatments

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

UPDATE: Water bombers attack wildfire north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Wildfire BC reports fire is still classified out of control, 25 personnel on ground

Most Read