White House budget director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday stated that the two-day-old government shutdown could go into 2019, as Republicans and Democrats remain at an impasse over President Donald Trump’s demand for billions of dollars in border-wall funding.
According to Reuters, the next possibility for votes in the House and Senate is on Dec. 27, as Democrats say they’re far apart in negotiations with the Trump administration. Congressional leaders have left Washington; Trump is spending Christmas at the White House.
“It’s very possible that the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress,” Mulvaney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Although Trump originally wanted $5 billion for the wall, Mulvaney said the GOP is waiting to hear back about a counteroffer from Saturday to the approximately $1.3 billion that Democrats had previously offered for border security. He said the counteroffer is more than $1.6 billion, the amount Senate Democrats agreed to earlier in the year for border security.
“We’ve insisted on 5 for the discussions,” said Mulvaney, who is also the incoming acting White House chief of staff, in a separate appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “Now we’re between $1.6 billion and 5.”
The White House’s offer to Democrats on Saturday was $2.5 billion for border security, including new fencing and $400 million for Trump’s immigration priorities, according to a Democratic aide. The aide called the $400 million a “slush fund.”
The offer was made at the same time that administration officials were telling reporters on a conference call that Trump is insisting on $5 billion, creating a sense of confusion in the talks.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House, warned on Saturday that the shutdown may not be resolved until early January when her party takes control of the chamber.
“Until President Trump can publicly commit to a bipartisan resolution, there will be no agreement before January when the new House Democratic majority will swiftly pass legislation to re-open the government,” the California lawmaker said in a letter to fellow Democrats.
Vice President Mike Pence returned to the US Capitol on Saturday afternoon to make an offer to the chamber’s top Democrat, Chuck Schumer of New York. But after the meeting, a spokesman for Schumer said the two sides were far from an agreement.
“We’re still talking,” Pence said while leaving Schumer’s office.
Both sides spent Saturday dug into their positions over the terms of reopening the nine government departments whose funding expired after Friday night.
“If you want to open the government, you must abandon the wall,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Saturday.
But the Democrats, along with some Republicans, said they couldn’t support the $5 billion sought by Trump because they said a wall was an ineffective and inefficient method of securing the border.