US president uses Fox News interview to blame Democrats for impasse as partial closure stretches into New Year’s Eve
Donald Trump is “ready, willing and able” to negotiate an end to the partial government shutdown that stretched into its 10th day on New Year’s Eve.
Trump was set to tell Fox News in a year-end TV interview due to be broadcast on Monday night that Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi “can come over right now” and “could’ve come over anytime” to try to hash out a solution.
The fresh statement appeared to be another attempt by the president to convince the public that the federal government shutdown and impasse over funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border is the fault of Democrats.
But he has not been directly in touch with Democratic leaders offering to negotiate, he has simply posted criticism via Twitter and, now, a late year interview, which is unlikely to shift the status quo.
In the interview with Fox, Trump is set to add that: “A lot of people are looking to get their paycheck, so I’m ready to go whenever they want.”
There were already indications from the Democratic camp earlier in the day, however, that congressional members are ignoring the president at this point. They intend to go straight for putting forward their own legislation to fund the government, without Trump’s requested funds for a wall, when they take over the House of Representatives in the new session of the US Congress beginning on Thursday.
Trump’s latest statements are in effect another version of his tweet earlier in the day when he said: “I’m in the Oval Office. Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary for Border Security, including the Wall….”
Democrats on Monday unveiled legislation designed to re-open the federal government, without providing money for Donald Trump’s border wall.
According to an anonymous aide quoted by the Associated Press, the House is preparing to vote on the package on Thursday, when the new Congress will convene with Democrats in the majority in the lower chamber for the first time since 2010. It will include one bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security at current levels through 8 February, with $1.3bn for border security. Trump has demanded $5bn.
The package will include six other bills to fund the departments of agriculture, interior, housing and urban development and others closed by the partial shutdown. Some bills have already passed the Senate. Those will provide money through the remainder of the fiscal year, to 30 September.
Monday was the 10th day of the partial government shutdown forced by Trump’s demand for a wall. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers face increasing hardship and key government functions are cast into ever-increasing doubt.
And on Monday afternoon it emerged that some of the most famous national parks in the western US are closing partially because of problems such as overflowing public toilets and garbage facilities, vandalism to fragile areas and resulting dangers to human and wildlife safety.
The shutdown, which has forced furloughs of hundreds of thousands of federal government employees, has left many parks without most of their rangers.
“It’s a free-for-all,” Dakota Snider, 24, who lives and works in Yosemite Valley, northern California, said told the Associated Press by telephone on Monday, as Yosemite national park officials announced closings of some minimally supervised campgrounds and public areas within the park that are overwhelmed.
“It’s so heartbreaking. There is more trash and human waste and disregard for the rules than I’ve seen in my four years living here,” Snider said.