US shutdown talks to resume, says Trump

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Media captionPresident Trump said he was prepared to shut down the government for months or years

Talks to end the partial US federal government shutdown will resume on Sunday, President Donald Trump says, as the stalemate enters its third week.

Mr Trump tweeted there was “not much headway made today” in talks with Democratic party representatives.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi meanwhile said her party would introduce appropriation bills to try to reopen certain agencies.

About 800,000 federal workers have been without pay since 22 December.

The stand-off has seen Mr Trump withhold support for a bill to fully fund the government until he gets money for a US-Mexico border wall.

Transport Security Administration employee Brian Turner told the BBC he might have to look for another job if the shutdown continued.

“We have a five-month -ld son so we have about a month left before we’re going to have to start having those difficult conversations about what to do next,” he said.

Mr Trump said a second meeting with the Democratic Party heads was scheduled for Sunday, and reiterated his call for a wall to “fix the problems on the Southern Border”.

He had earlier met with Ms Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

President Trump also said he could declare a national emergency to build the proposed border wall without the approval of Congress.

He said he was prepared for the partial government shutdown to last months or even years.

“I’m very proud of doing what I’m doing,” the president added. “I don’t call it a shutdown, I call it doing what you have to do for the benefit and safety of our country.”

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll reportedly shows 50% blame the president for the shutdown, while 32% see the Democratic Party as culpable.

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Democrats House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer walk out of the West Wing

Ms Pelosi said after the failed talks on Saturday that her party would introduce piecemeal bills aimed at reopening certain government agencies, starting with the Internal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department.

“This action is necessary so that the American people can receive their tax refunds on schedule,” she said.

The House Speaker has previously called Mr Trump’s border wall plan “a waste of money” and “immoral”.

Trump unbending

By David Willis, Washington

President Trump believes a wall is the best way of stemming an influx of drugs and gangs from Central and South America.

Democrats disagree however, and – emboldened by their new majority in the House of Representatives – are refusing to discuss funding for border security until the federal government is reopened.

A wall along the Mexican border was the signature issue of Mr Trump’s run for office, and his representatives know they can’t back down on the issue – even though that could mean that key parts of the US government will remained paralysed for quite some time to come

What’s the background?

Democrats, who now hold the majority in the House, passed spending bills on Thursday to reopen the government, including $1.3bn (£1bn) of border security funds until 8 February.

But the legislation cannot take effect unless it passes the Republican-controlled Senate, where leader Mitch McConnell said his party would not back any measure without the president’s support.

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Media captionFive historic moments as new US Congress opens

The Kentucky senator called the Democratic budget “a time-wasting act of political posturing”.

In Friday’s news conference, Mr Trump also told reporters he might consider asking his cabinet to decline a $10,000 pay rise that is due to take effect because a pay freeze has expired as an inadvertent result of the shutdown.

The fiscal fiasco began when Congress and Mr Trump failed to reach an agreement over a budget bill in December.

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Media captionThe return of the woman Republicans love to hate

The Republicans had passed an initial funding bill including $5bn (£4bn) for the wall, when they still had a majority in the House, but they could not get the necessary 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate.

Two vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election in 2020 – Cory Gardner of Colorado and Susan Collins of Maine – have broken ranks to back approving the budget and ending the shutdown.

The White House is again floating the idea of a deal for “Dreamers” – immigrants who illegally entered the US as children.

Democrats want to ensure that these individuals are shielded from deportation, but have insisted that they will not support a deal over wall funding.

Vice-President Mike Pence told Fox News the deal was being “talked about”, but that Mr Trump said no deal was possible “without a wall”.

What does the partial shutdown mean?

  • About 25% of the US federal government has no funding
  • Nine departments have been affected, including Homeland Security, Justice, Housing, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, and the Treasury
  • Native American tribes who receive substantial federal funding are struggling
  • National Parks have become hazardous without staff

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