US govt shutdown drags into 4th week as stalemate continues

January 15, 2019 08:45
Furloughed government workers, contractors and their families attend a free community dinner on Jan. 11 in Silver Spring, Maryland during the partial US government shutdown. Photo: Reuters

A partial US government shutdown limped through its 24th day, as President Donald Trump dug in his heels on border wall funding and congressional Democrats continuing to reject the proposal. 

About one-quarter of federal operations have been partially closed by a lack of funding since Dec. 22 after Trump demanded US$5.7 billion this year from Congress for building a security wall on the southwest US border.

At a speech to an American Farm Bureau convention in New Orleans on Monday, Trump again urged Congress to grant him the money, saying drones, sensors and other technology cannot do what a wall can do to stop illegal border crossings, Reuters reports.

Democrats, who control the House, have rejected Trump’s US$5.7 billion demand, as have Senate Democrats who are needed to pass most legislation in the chamber.

On Sunday, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham urged Trump to reopen the government for a short period of time in an effort to restart talks. 

“That was a suggestion that Lindsey made but I did reject it,” Trump told reporters as he left the White House for Louisiana. “I want to get it solved, I don’t want to just delay it.”

The partial shutdown is the longest in US history and has seen Trump lurch from one idea to another in an attempt to secure money for building a wall that he argues is needed to secure the US against illegal immigrants and drugs.

Democrats say there are cheaper, more effective ways of enhancing border security than constructing a wall that could cost well beyond US$25 billion.

They have offered US$1.3 billion in new border security funds this year to help pay for a range of high-tech and other tools at the border.

The number of airport security screeners not showing up for work continued to rise since the start of the disruption.

Many security officers “are understandably looking for other work to make ends meet, House of Representatives Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Democrat, said in a statement.

In December Trump said he would take responsibility for the shutdown but has since shifted the blame to Democrats.

A growing proportion of Americans blame Trump for the closures, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

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