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Government shutdown: Schumer says Trump threatened to close government for months, years



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Friday that President Donald Trump threatened to keep the federal government partially shut down for “months, or even years” unless Democrats relent to the president’s demands for US-Mexico border wall funding.

Speaking after a roughly two-hour meeting with Trump at the White House, Schumer said Democrats urged Trump to agree to a short-term funding extension that would reopen the government and allow the leaders to continue discussions over border security without leaving 800,000 federal workers in limbo.

“We told the president we needed the government open. He resisted,” Schumer said. “In fact he said he would keep it closed for a very long period of time — months or even years.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who took over the House’s top job on Thursday, also called the meeting “sometimes contentious.”

“But we recognize on the Democratic side that we really cannot resolve this until we open up government,” Pelosi said. “We made that very clear to the president. Services are being withheld from the American people and paychecks are being withheld from people who serve the needs of the American people and our border security will suffer if we do not resolve this issue.”

Read more: The government shutdown is in its 14th day and there’s no end in sight. Here’s how Trump and Congress got into this mess.»

House Democrats passed two bills on Friday that would reopen the government and extend funding for the agencies that are closed into February. Pelosi and the Democratic leadership argue that the measures would give the two sides time to come to an agreement.

The Senate passed nearly identical bills prior to the Christmas break, but they were blocked by the then-Republican House majority after Trump flip-flopped on his support for the extension.

With no solution reached, the government entered a partial shutdown on December 22.

The shutdown is now in its 14th day and with no resolution in sight, there is a good chance the funding lapse will be the longest in modern history.

The shutdown does not close the entire government as Congress passed five of the 12 bills that fund various departments of the government, but a slew of departments are still closed including: agriculture, commerce, justice, homeland security, the interior, state, transportation, and housing and urban development.

Employees in those departments will go without pay for the duration of the shutdown with a total of 800,000 federal employees affected.

420,000 of those workers are deemed essential, such as Coast Guard members and airport security, and are being forced to work with no pay. The other 380,000 employees are on furlough, meaning they do not receive pay and are not allowed to come in to work.

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