UPDATE 3-On Day 1 in power, House Democrats challenge Trump on shutdown
Thursday marks the first day of divided government in Washington since Trump took office in January 2017, as Democrats took control in the House from his fellow Republicans, who remain in charge of the Senate.
The 2019-2020 Congress convened with roughly a quarter of the federal government closed, affecting 800,000 employees, in a shutdown triggered by Trump's demand last month for the money for a U.S.-Mexican border wall - opposed by Democrats - as part of any legislation funding government agencies.
Congressional leaders from both parties held unproductive talks with Trump at the White House on Wednesday and are to return for another round on Friday, a sign the shutdown is likely to continue for the rest of the week.
The House formally picked veteran Democratic lawmaker Nancy Pelosi as its speaker, elevating the liberal from San Francisco for her second stint in one of Washington's most powerful jobs. The chamber then was expected to turn quickly to votes on the Democratic government funding legislation.
The two-part Democratic package includes a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through Feb. 8, providing $1.3 billion for border fencing and $300 million for other border security items including technology and cameras.
The second part would fund the other federal agencies that are now unfunded including the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, Commerce and Justice, through Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
'THE WRONG FOOT'
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the Democratic legislation has no future in the Senate, calling it "political theater, not productive lawmaking."
"Let's not waste the time," he said on the Senate floor. "Let's not get off on the wrong foot with House Democrats using their platform to produce political statements rather than serious solutions."
McConnell said the Senate will not take up any proposal that does not have a real chance of getting Trump's signature.
Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer urged McConnell to allow the Democratic legislation to come to a vote in the chamber and said there was no reason to keep parts of the government unrelated to the border security issue shut down because of the wall standoff.
"If Leader McConnell tonight would put the bill that's passing the House on the floor, it would pass," Schumer said, noting that the measures previously have been backed by Senate Republicans.
After the November congressional elections, Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate and Democrats have a 235-199 margin in the House with one seat undecided.
Trump made the wall a key campaign promise in 2016, saying Mexico would pay for it and arguing it is needed to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Democrats have called the wall immoral, ineffective and medieval.
"No, no. Nothing for the wall," Pelosi said in an interview aired on Thursday on NBC's "Today" show. "We're talking about border security. There is no amount of persuasion he (Trump) can do to say to us, 'We want you to do something that is not effective, that costs billions of dollars.' That sends the wrong message about who we are as a country."
Trump on Thursday accused Democrats of playing politics.
"The Shutdown is only because of the 2020 Presidential Election," Trump wrote on Twitter. "The Democrats know they can't win based on all of the achievements of 'Trump,' so they are going all out on the desperately needed Wall and Border Security - and Presidential Harassment. For them, strictly politics!"
Credit rating agency Moody's said the shutdown would cause minimal U.S. economic and credit market disruption but there could be a more severe impact on financial markets and the broad economy if the closure is protracted.
The $5 billion Trump is seeking would cover only a portion of the money needed for a border wall, a project estimated to cost about $23 billion.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Ginger Gibson and Amanda Becker; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert, Susan Cornwell and Susan Heavey; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Bill Trott)
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
- Dollar holds mostly steady ahead of Trump's SOTU Address, draws support from euro
- Bickering overshadows Trump's State of Union appeal for unity
- Asian shares start cautiously as investors await Trump's SOTU speech
- UPDATE 1-Trump plans to meet North Korea's Kim in Vietnam Feb. 27-28 - Politico
- UPDATE 4-Trump to say in speech fixing immigration system is 'moral duty'