- ‘I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen’
- Funding for quarter of federal programs expired on Friday
Donald Trump has marked Christmas Day by insisting the partial shutdown of the federal government will last until his demand for funds to build a wall on the US-Mexico border is met.
The US government partially shut down on Saturday, and there is not yet any sign of tangible efforts to reopen agencies closed by a political impasse over Trump’s demand for border wall funds.
“I can’t tell you when the government is going to reopen,” Trump said, speaking after a Christmas Day video conference with US troops serving abroad. “I can tell you it’s not going to reopen until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they’d like to call it. I’ll call it whatever they want, but it’s all the same thing. It’s a barrier from people pouring into the country, from drugs.”
He added: “If you don’t have that [the wall], then we’re just not opening.”
Funding for about a quarter of federal programs – including the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Agriculture – expired at midnight on Friday. Without a deal to break the impasse, the shutdown is likely to stretch into the new year.
Trump’s latest comments come a day after top Democrats accused the president of “plunging the country into chaos” as top officials met to discuss a growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president’s persistent attacks on the Federal Reserve and a government shutdown.
“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” the two top Democrats in Congress, the House speaker nominee, Nancy Pelosi, and Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, wrote in a joint statement on Monday.
“The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense.”
Trump criticized the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the “only problem” for the US economy, even as top officials convened the “plunge protection team” forged after the 1987 crash to discuss the growing rout in stock markets.
The crisis call on Monday between US financial regulators and the US treasury department failed to assure markets, and stocks fell again amid concern about slowing economic growth, the continuing government shutdown, and reports that Trump had discussed firing the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome Powell.
The Dow Jones plummeted 653 points in a shortened trading day on Monday, capping its worst week in a decade and reportedly marking its “worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever”. Investors appeared increasingly skittish.
The S&P 500 also dropped 2.7%, leaving it on pace for its biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Recession and indicating a move to a bear market, according to CNBC.
House and Senate members could not broker a deal before Congress’s adjournment for the holiday and prior to this deadlock, however, and Trump warned of a “very long shutdown”.
Building the wall was one of Trump’s most frequently repeated campaign promises, but Democrats are vehemently opposed to it. More than 420,000 federal employees will work without getting paid over the holidays during the partial shutdown.