President Trump has a Christmas message for Democrats – the government is going to remain partially shut down “until we have a wall [or] fence.”
Trump, speaking to reporters Tuesday in the Oval Office during the fourth day of the impasse, also revealed that he will be going to the border in Texas for a “groundbreaking” ceremony for a portion of the project at the end of January.
“While we’re fighting over funding, we’re also building, and it’s my hope to have this done, completed, all 500 to 550 miles, to have it either renovated or brand new by Election Day,” he said.
Democrats, though, remain opposed to approving additional funding for a border wall as part of a new government spending package — and their hand only strengthens once the party takes control of the House next month. The White House warned over the weekend that the shutdown standoff could extend into the new year, and Trump on Tuesday made clear he’s not planning to budge either.
“I can’t tell you when the government is going to be open,” Trump said. “I can tell you it’s not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they want to call it.
“It’s a barrier from people pouring into our country,” he added. “It’s a barrier from drugs.”
Trump also accused Democrats of wanting open borders – while claiming some federal workers are on his side.
“Many of those workers have said to me, communicated, ‘stay out until you get the funding for the wall.’ These federal workers want the wall,” Trump told reporters.”
Trump insisted that it would be effective in keeping illegal immigrants from entering the U.S.
“There may be a case of an Olympic champion who may get over the wall, but for the most part, you’re not going to be able to do it,” Trump quipped.
Democratic leaders on Christmas Eve, meanwhile, said the “president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it.”
The White House presented a counteroffer over the weekend that is between Trump’s $5.7 billion price tag and the $1.3 billion Democrats have offered, according to budget director Mick Mulvaney.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, though, said the parties remained “very far apart.”
The impact of the shutdown, meanwhile, could be felt soon.
Trump excused federal employees from work on Monday and Christmas is a federal holiday, meaning the public could begin to notice the shutdown’s effects on Wednesday. Some 800,000 federal workers must either work without pay for the time being, or stay home and wait to be paid later.
Several Cabinet departments and agencies have been closed since Saturday after their funding lapsed.
Trump is at the White House, while his family is in Florida for Christmas. He talked to reporters Tuesday after he offered greetings to American troops stationed around the world.
“It’s a disgrace what’s happening in our country, but other than that I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas,” he said.
Fox News’ Jennifer Bowman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Author: Greg Norman