The longest government shutdown in U.S. history continues, entering its 23rd day Sunday.
On Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to post about the Democrats and their congressional leaders.
In a reference to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, Trump posted late Saturday: “I am in the White House waiting for Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy to call so we can start helping our Country both at the Border and from within!”
Earlier Saturday, the president tweeted: “We have a massive Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border. We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their “vacations” and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign!”
Members of Congress have left Washington until late Monday, ensuring the shutdown will see a 24th day.
Border wall standoff
The shutdown stems from Trump’s demand for billions of dollars to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, a move the House of Representatives has refused. The president says the wall is needed to keep out migrants whom he called “criminals” and “rapists” during his successful presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, the shutdown has affected some 800,000 federal workers who have been furloughed or who are working without pay. Neither group knows when they will see a pay check again.
Some municipalities and businesses are trying to help federal workers and their families with special discounts and offerings.
In the Washington area, Giant Food Stores opened pop-up markets on several of its parking lots Saturday to give free groceries to federal workers. School districts in Washington and surrounding areas have expanded their school lunch program to provide free lunches to children whose parents are victims of the shutdown.
‘Painless as possible’
Russell T. Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the Trump administration is seeking “to make this shutdown as painless as possible, consistent with the law.”
A former OMB leader, however, disagrees.
Alice Rivlin, who led OMB during the 21-day shutdown in 1996, said, “The strategy seems to be to keep the shutdown in place, not worry about the effect on employees and furloughed people and contractors, but where the public might be annoyed, give a little.”
Rivlin said the difference between 1996 and now is “We wanted it to end. I’m not convinced the Trump administration does.”
National emergency talk
The lapse in funding has hit roughly a quarter of the federal government, including the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
Trump visited the border town of McAllen, Texas, Thursday, saying he may declare a national emergency.
“We’re either going to have a win, make a compromise, because I think a compromise is a win for everybody, or I will declare a national emergency,” he said.
Such a declaration would allow Trump to spend money on a wall without congressional approval. It would likely bring an immediate court challenge from Democrats who say there is no emergency at the border and that the president would be overstepping his constitutional authority.
Trump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the Democrats, especially House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Schumer.
He says they are oblivious to national security and will not compromise.
Pelosi and Schumer say the president is obsessed by the wall and has manufactured a crisis, in part, to distract the country from his other problems.
They have proposed reopening the government and separating the wall issue for separate negotiations.