President Trump lamented being alone in the White House on Christmas Eve instead of in Mar-a-Lago, where he had planned to spend the holidays. His incoming acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Trump will remain in Washington through New Year’s Day as the government shutdown continues.
Trump, who visited U.S. troops in Iraq the day after Christmas, has tweeted a lot while awaiting word from Congress on whether his border wall will be funded with U.S. taxpayer dollars, after saying repeatedly that Mexico would pay for it.
But congressional leaders have basically given up on reopening the government this year, departed Washington and decided that figuring out how to reopen the government is a 2019 problem.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) returned to their home states. Aides for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) declined to reveal the two leaders' whereabouts, but they definitely are not on Capitol Hill.
Schumer’s spokesman, Justin Goodman, said the senator is at home with family and his new grandson but is in touch by phone.
“Schumer and Pelosi have been in constant and close contact and on the same page with regards to shutdown strategy. There is no daylight between them,” Goodman said.
Meanwhile, AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, who isn’t returning to Congress next year, put the onus on Schumer: “The House remains ready to act once there is a product that can pass the Senate and that the president says he will sign,” she said. “Unfortunately, Senator Schumer has still not produced a counter to the White House’s latest offer, so we continue to wait for a 60-vote solution to protect the border and end this partial shutdown.”
The impasse came about when Trump, who had signaled he would support a clean funding bill to keep the government open through the holidays and the first month of the new year, changed his mind after the Senate passed that bill. Then the House, rather than take up the legislation, passed a version with $5.7 billion for Trump’s wall, but there weren’t enough votes to pass it in the Senate.
Democrats have argued that Ryan should have taken up the clean Senate bill, ultimately putting the pressure on Trump to sign or veto it.
With Trump dug in on getting funding for his wall and Democrats adamant they won’t give him any, each side is waiting for the other to blink.