Ns News Online Desk: US: With Democrats and Republicans refusing to budge on border security and the budget, the partial government shutdown on Saturday entered the third week of what could be a very long standoff. When it reaches 16 days on Sunday, the shutdown will be tied as the third longest in history. And with Congress out of session until Tuesday, it’s poised to secure second place on that list—at least. “Not much headway made today,” President Trump tweeted Saturday evening. “After so many decades, must finally and permanently fix the problems on the Southern Border!”
Trump’s three designated negotiators—Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and adviser Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law—met with Democratic congressional staffers for two hours Saturday without making substantial progress, a Pence aide said. Trump has refused to sign a budget unless it includes about $5.6 billion for a border wall, a condition the Dems reject.
That’s left nine cabinet-level departments and numerous agencies without the cash to keep functioning—and a growing list of problems. If the Internal Revenue Service, for one, remains closed for business, taxpayers won’t get their expected refunds, according to report. Refunds typically begin flowing to early filers in the last week of January.
Food-stamp programs will run out of funds in mid-February, the Washington Post reported, meaning severe restrictions on aid to low-income Americans. And at national parks, which are sparsely staffed during the partial government shutdown, three visitors have died.
They include a hiker who suffered a head injury in California’s Yosemite National Park on Dec. 25, the National Park Service said Friday. Several popular trails were closed as a result. There are about six deaths per week in the national park system, the service said. In a blow to beverage connoisseurs, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau is not approving new labels and certain new recipes for the foreseeable future.
At Saturday’s meeting between team Trump and the Dems, Nielsen maintained that illegal crossings at the US-Mexico border have grown to crisis proportions. Democrats asked her for a written wish list of the agency’s needs.
Trump insisted he wants to reopen the government—even though, he suggested, that would help supporters of the opposition. “I don’t care that most of the workers not getting paid are Democrats,” he tweeted. “I want to stop the Shutdown as soon as we are in agreement on Strong Border Security!”
The government does not keep tabs on its workers’ political affiliations. But federal election filings showed 95 percent of feds’ contributions during the 2016 cycle went to Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to The Hill. With another meeting between White House reps and congressional staffers set for Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced plans to reopen agencies—even if they’re just a symbolic gesture.
“Next week, @HouseDemocrats will begin passing individual appropriations bills to re-open all government agencies, starting with the Department of the Treasury & IRS—an action necessary to make sure working families receive their tax refunds on schedule,” she tweeted. The longest shutdown ever, from December 1995 to January 1996, lasted 21 days, according to the Congressional Research Service. An October 1978 shutdown spanned 17 days and the third-longest one, in October 2013, lasted 16 days, the service said. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump heads to Camp David on Sunday to lead a staff retreat, a team-building exercise organized by acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. Trump has refused to sign a budget unless it includes about $5.6 billion for a border wall.