National Christmas Tree goes dark, Trump fumes in USA chaos

United States lawmakers headed home for Christmas leaving the government partially shut for a third day Monday in an impasse over President Donald Trump's demand for border wall funding, a standoff which the White House budget director said may continue until a new Congress takes over in January.

"It's very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress", he said.

The $5 billion President Trump demanded for border wall construction would build 215 miles of new or replacement barrier along the U.S. -Mexico border, averaging a staggering $23.3 million per mile.

Mulvaney, who also runs the White House budget office, said he's awaiting a response from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY after the administration on Saturday presented Schumer with a counteroffer in the long-running dispute over funding the wall. Far-right commentators, such Ann Coulter, as well as members of the Freedom Caucus, called the president out on his campaign pledge as negotiations were taking place.

"There's a whole lot of numbers being thrown around", but a maximum $1.6 billion for border security "is not acceptable".

Mulvaney also acknowledged during his interview that Trump's personality has made it more hard to navigate through the government shutdown. In retaliation, Trump is refusing to sign a broader spending bill, triggering a stand-off that has left swathes of the U.S. government temporarily without funding.

January 3 is the day that the new Congress will convene and the Democrats will take over the House of Representatives, after winning it in the polls in November.

But Democrats believe they have a stronger hand in the faceoff against a president who said he would be "proud" to force a shutdown - rarely popular among the broader public - in the name of tighter border security.

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Merkley tells ABC's "This Week" that "30-foot concrete wall, 30-foot steel spikes, that's not the smart way".

Trump reversed course Thursday and rejected a measure that had unanimously passed the Senate and was under House consideration. Shortly afterward, Trump declared he would not sign any bill that did not have $5 billion for the wall. Another 380,000 will be "furloughed", meaning they are put on temporary leave.

McConnell then tried to pin the blame on Senate Democrats.

Building the wall was one of Trump's most frequently repeated campaign promises but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it. Yet he also tried to reassure the country by insisting that "I want everybody to understand no one is working without getting paid".

Graham used a weekend luncheon with conservative lawmakers at the White House to impress on the president the rightness of his instinct on both the border wall and the troop withdrawal in Syria, while also sharing with Trump some ideas for smoothing the policy around both issues.

He also discussed details of when the partial shutdown really kicks in and what the pay implications are for federal employees.

Yet the disruption is affecting many operations and some 800,000 federal employees. Absent were GOP leaders or Democrats who would be needed for a deal.

Schumer has been an outspoken critic of the border wall and says he will not change his strategy due to the recent government shutdown. Legislation ensuring that workers receive back pay was expected to clear Congress. They have offered to keep spending at existing levels of $1.3 billion for border fencing and other security.

  • Sonia Alvarado