Top Trump aide says government shutdown may go into New Year


President Donald Trump's incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said the partial government shutdown could continue into next year.

Outside the White House, Washington's National Christmas Tree became a forlorn symbol of the dysfunction when the National Park Service - one of the government bodies hit by the funding shutdown - briefly turned off the lights.

But as Trump faced criticism from conservatives for "caving" on a campaign promise, he pushed the House to approve a package temporarily financing the government but also setting aside $5.7 billion for the border wall.

Ending the shutdown - which affects nine of 15 federal departments, dozens of agencies and hundreds of thousands of workers - would also require the support of Pelosi, who's in line to become speaker on January 3.

He is coming off one of his roughest weeks as President - instigating the government shutdown fight, provoking then fast-tracking his defence chief James Mattis' resignation, abruptly pulling U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan, and even thinking about firing the head of the USA central bank. Democrats have opposed the plan from the start, saying that a physical wall is both too expensive and ineffective. "It's unnecessary", Philip Gibbs, a retired business professor from South Virginia, said of the shutdown.

During Ronald Reagan's two terms, there were six shutdowns, typically lasting just one or two days apiece. Speaking on the Senate floor, the New York Democrat said the "Trump shutdown" could end immediately.

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Trump had already declared Monday, Christmas Eve, a federal holiday. "Democrats are wrong to act like children, to say you can't get a penny more".

Although tourists could still stroll along the Mall and visit its open-air sites, they found public restrooms closed.

Donald Trump has warned it could be "a long stay" as he negotiates with Democrats to end a partial United States government shutdown. The Statue of Liberty remained open for tours, thanks to NY state, and the U.S. Postal Service, an independent agency, was still delivering mail.

This is the third partial government shutdown of the year, even though Trump's own Republican party still controls both the House and Senate.

The budget stand-off could drag on into January, when the new Congress is seated, including a House controlled by Democrats.

"We pushed the pause button until the president, from whom we will need a signature, and Senate Democrats, from whom we will need votes, reach an agreement", McConnell said.

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The partial federal shutdown was expected to drag into Christmas as President Donald Trump and congressional leaders remained stuck in a standoff over his border wall with Mexico. Others deemed essential, including Transportation Security Administration officers screening passengers during the holiday crush, are working unpaid.

Financing for about a quarter of federal government programs - including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture - expired at midnight on Friday. The Secure Fence Act provided the George W. Bush administration with $1.4 billion for 652 miles of double-layer border fencing.

"We saw some folks are raising money for a border wall to keep out our migrant siblings and fellow human beings, who are fleeing violence and persecution and whose tragically-underpaid labor is essential to the USA economy", the admins wrote on the page bio.

A Democratic aide told the Associated Press that the offer from the White House on Saturday was $2.5 billion - an initial $2.1 billion plus $400 million Democrats called a "slush fund" for the president's other immigration priorities.

Trump said he was "waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security".

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