Shutdown enters day 23 with no end in sight

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)  Photo by Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) called on the president to reopen the government and negotiate separately on the border wall, but expressed little hope for a deal. (Photo by Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock)

The approximately 800,000 federal employees on furlough or working without pay are starting their second full pay period of the shutdown with no end in sight.

On the Sunday talk shows, there wasn't much encouraging news from politicians and policymakers on a possible end to the 23-day shutdown. The Trump administration didn't send any officials to appear among the talking heads on TV, and lawmakers were mostly downbeat about prospects for a deal.

As ever, the proposed border wall between the U.S. and Mexico is the sticking point.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is close to the president, said on Fox News Sunday he advised Trump to take a deal similar to one currently on offer from Democrats.

"I tried to see if we could open up the government for limited period of time to negotiate a deal and the president says, let's make a deal, then open up the government," Graham said. The problem with that suggestion, Graham said, is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is saying no to a border wall.

"So, that's why I'm depressed," Graham said. "You know, there's not much talk about what she said. She's telling the president, even if you open up the government, I'm not going to do a deal on the wall. And that's a nonstarter for the president."

On CNN's State of the Union program, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said Trump is the one who is too stubborn to deal.

"I think history will show that Donald Trump, the supposed great dealmaker… that business schools and management consultants will look back for years and say, this was the most inept negotiation," Warner said. "He boxed himself in a corner. He didn't empower his negotiators, like the vice president or Lindsey Graham or [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.]. He's not allowed any win -- win-win circumstance."

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said on Meet the Press that while the Senate was out, he had helped arrange the passage of a bill that guarantees back pay for furloughed federal employees once the shutdown is over. Kaine said he had assurances from McConnell that the bill would be signed by the president.

While McConnell helped move the back pay bill, he's been conspicuously absent from negotiations on ending the shutdown. On Fox, Sen. Chris C00ns (D-Del.) said that's because the Senate majority leader " doesn't really know what the president will accept."

Jeh Johnson, former secretary of homeland security, said on Face the Nation there is an "emerging crisis" brewing in the ranks of DHS because of the shutdown.

"I think I know this workforce," Johnson said. "It must be leading to all kinds of uncertainty, stress and anxiety, and frankly, anger and resentment. We see reports of [transportation security officers] calling in sick. And if this is not resolved soon, I predict that that's going to go in the wrong direction and we're going to start seeing longer and longer lines at airports."

Press reports indicate that budget officials are planning for a shutdown that extends to the end of February, and Trump's argument for the border wall and a possible state of emergency to provide legal means to reprogram existing funds for barrier construction on the border, could form part of the State of the Union address scheduled for Jan. 29.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is executive editor of FCW.

Before joining the editing team, Mazmanian was an FCW staff writer covering Congress, government-wide technology policy and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to joining FCW, Mazmanian was technology correspondent for National Journal and served in a variety of editorial roles at B2B news service SmartBrief. Mazmanian has contributed reviews and articles to the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper, Newsday, New York Press, Architect Magazine and other publications.

Click here for previous articles by Mazmanian. Connect with him on Twitter at @thisismaz.


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