The House prepared to break for the weekend Friday, all but ensuring the partial government shutdown would become the longest in U.S. history, while President Trump continued his efforts to sway public opinion on the need for a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The Democratic-led House planned its final votes of the week Friday morning on a pair of bills, one of which would open more departments of government — but was already declared dead-on-arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate. The other bill would ensure federal workers who are furloughed receive back pay once the government reopens.
About 800,000 workers missed a paycheck Friday as the impasse between Trump and Democrats stretched into its 21st day. Without a dramatic turn of events, the shutdown would become one for the record books at midnight.
As of late Friday morning, there were no signs of serious negotiations underway. Trump took to Twitter to tout his high-profile trip to the border on Thursday, writing that “I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!”
“The Democrats, Cryin’ Chuck and Nancy don’t know how bad and dangerous it is for our ENTIRE COUNTRY,” Trump wrote, referencing Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
Trump asserted that without a wall — or steel barrier — “Our Country cannot be safe.”
Democrats pushed back in television appearances and speeches on the floor.
“One person is responsible for shutting down government: Donald Trump,” House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) told his colleagues, arguing that Democrats are open to tightening border security but were not going to “waste money” on what he characterized as an antiquated approach advocated by Trump.
Hoyer referenced comments last month by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) in which he described Trump’s call for a border wall as a “metaphor.”
“If it is a metaphor for security, we’re in,” Hoyer said.
House Republicans criticized Democrats for going through the motions of passing the latest in bills to reopen parts of the government unrelated to border security. The bill taken up Friday would reopen national parks, as well as several agencies.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) called the exercise “a charade” because Senate leaders have already indicated they don’t plan to vote on the bill, and Trump has said he won’t sign it.
“If anybody thinks this is accomplishing anything, it’s not,” Cole said.
“We’ve wasted the week because our friends can’t sit down and split the difference,” he added. “I don’t think anyone looks particularly good in this. … This will end another sad week in this chamber.”
As part of an effort to continue to build a public case for the wall, Vice President Pence was scheduled Friday to deliver remarks to U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees.
Later Friday afternoon, Trump is holding what is billed as a “roundtable discussion on border security” at the White House with state, local, and community leaders.