The partial U.S. government shutdown is in its 9th day, with no end in sight, as U.S. President Donald Trump continues to stress the need for his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall
In a tweet Saturday, Trump said Democrats should take the initiative on ending the shutdown, saying, “I am in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal” on border security.
A budget standoff remains between Trump, who wants $5 billion in wall funding, and Democratic lawmakers, who back a modest increase in overall border security funding but resolutely oppose a wall.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Trump again threatened to close the entire U.S.-Mexico border and cut aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador if Congress failed to give him money to fund the wall. He also asked for changes in what he said was the United States’ “ridiculous immigration laws.”
Closing the U.S.-Mexican border would mean disrupting a $1.68 billion-a-day trade relationship between the two countries. In addition, immigrant advocates have called any move to seal the border “disgraceful.”
In a tweet Saturday, Trump linked Democrats’ “pathetic immigration policies” with the deaths of two Guatemalan children while they were in U.S. custody.
His comments, the first to reference the children’s deaths, came the same day Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was finishing a two-day visit to the southern U.S. border, where she said in a statement, “The system is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis.”
Trump has declined to comment on whether he might accept less than $5 billion for wall funding. When asked Wednesday how long he thought the shutdown would last, Trump told reporters, “Whatever it takes.”
Out of a workforce of about 2.1 million federal employees, more than 800,000 have been furloughed without pay. About 420,000 of those furloughed employees are still being required to work without pay.
Democrats have blamed Trump for “plunging the country into chaos” and have noted that, weeks ago, Trump said he would be “proud” to “own” a shutdown over border wall funding.
The Republican Party controls the White House, as well as both chambers of Congress. On Thursday, however, a new Congress, with a Democrat-controlled House, will be seated.
If the partial shutdown continues, the Smithsonian Institution said it would start closing its 19 museums, art galleries and National Zoo starting midweek. The Smithsonian attractions drew nearly 21 million visitors by the end of October 2018, according to the institution’s website. It recorded 30 million visitors in 2017.