White House: Trump would accept less money for border wall

ASSOCIATED PRESS           People walk up the steps even though the National Archives is closed with the partial government shutdown Saturday in Washington

A budget deal to end the shutdown - which forced several key USA agencies to cease operations at 12.01 a.m. (0501 GMT) Saturday - appeared a distant prospect as Congress adjourned for the weekend ahead of Christmas.

"This is what Washington looks like when you have a president who refuses to sort of go along to get along".

The US House of Representatives, where Republicans have a majority until Democrats take over on January 3, passed a bill that included the $5bn, but it ran aground in the Senate.

Trump will remain in Washington for Christmas, his Florida vacation cancelled, first lady Melania Trump forced to fly back into town.

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers faced a partial government shutdown early Saturday after Democrats refused to meet President Donald Trump's demands for $5 billion to start erecting a border wall with Mexico.

"The only way to stop drugs, gangs, human trafficking, criminal elements and much else from coming into our Country is with a Wall or Barrier", he said early Sunday on Twitter, before repeating essentially the same message in a tweet at the end of the day.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who is also the budget director, said he was waiting to hear from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of NY about a counteroffer the White House presented Schumer over the weekend.

But Democrats have said they would be willing to offer $1.3 billion for border security but no funds for a wall.

Nine of 15 federal departments, including State, Homeland Security, Transportation, Agriculture and Justice began partially shutting down after funding for them lapsed at midnight (05:00 GMT Saturday).

Federal parks are closed and more than 400,000 federal "essential" employees in those agencies will work without pay until the dispute is resolved.

He was speaking on ABC´s "This Week".

In a separate interview for Fox News, he said he was waiting to hear from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer about a new Republican offer, without specifying the sum.

Even some Republicans expressed consternation over what they dubbed an avoidable crisis. "The whole thing is juvenile", Corker said in arguing for real measures that he maintains will secure the border better than a wall.

"This is something that is unnecessary".

Mulvaney said that for then-candidate Trump to "just say build the darn fence and have that be the end of an immigration discussion is absurd and nearly childish for someone running for president to take that simplistic of [a] view".

It remains unclear how long the shutdown will last, with Washington unable to accomplish one of its most basic tasks - keeping the government up and running.

Dozens of national parks and monuments were closed. Adding more insult to injury was Mattis' resignation letter, which directly criticized the Trump administration's deteriorating relationship with allies. "I want everybody to understand no one is working without getting paid".

Tourists could still visit open-air sites on the Mall but found public restrooms locked. 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.

Most critical US security functions remain operational, but 8,00,000 federal workers are affected, with many furloughed before Christmas.



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