The new Democratically led House of Representatives has voted to reopen the federal government and to fund the Department of Homeland Security until early February.
But neither of the two measures the House approved includes the $5 billion President Donald Trump wants for a wall along the U.S. southern border, making passage in the Republican-controlled Senate unlikely and a Trump veto almost a certainty.
The thinking behind the two separate measures is to reopen the government while spinning off the deadlock over the border wall for separate negotiations.
Trump has invited congressional leaders from both parties for another White House meeting Friday on how to end the government shutdown, which is about to enter its third week.
Talks go nowhere
Talks Wednesday went nowhere after both sides dug in their heels, with Trump demanding $5 billion for the wall and Democrats saying not a dime.
“We can go back and forth,” Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told NBC News. “How many more times can we say no? Nothing for the wall.”
Pelosi accused Trump of holding the federal government hostage over his campaign promise to build a wall that he claimed Mexico would pay for.
“That is so ridiculous. A, Mexico’s not paying for it. And B, we have better use of funds to protect our border. The president knows that,” Pelosi said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the House bills “nonstarters” and “political theater.”
Trump puts blame on Democrats
While Trump himself has not used the word “veto,” other White House officials have. One official said the president told Democratic leaders he would “look foolish” if he ended the shutdown.
Trump is blaming Democrats for the current situation.
“The shutdown is only because of the 2020 presidential election,” he tweeted Thursday. “The Democrats know they can’t win based on all of the achievements of Trump, so they are going all out on the desperately needed wall and border security and presidential harassment. For them, strictly politics.”
Trump said the country needs protection, and warned that crime, drugs and gangs were pouring into the United States from Mexico.
He also claimed there are as many as 35 million illegal immigrants in the United States, contradicting experts who say the number is far lower.
Workers, taxpayers, parks suffer
Meanwhile, 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or working without pay for two weeks.
Garbage is piling up in national parks, which are officially closed as are most of Washington’s top tourist attractions.
The usually bustling National Mall was almost empty Thursday. Downtown afternoon rush hour traffic was unusually light.
And while the shutdown has mainly been affecting federal workers’ pocketbooks, millions of Americans across the country could soon feel it, too.
Federal workers who process and mail out income tax refunds are among those furloughed.