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Will the Shutdown Reach Week 3?

This story was updated Jan. 3 to reflect the most recent news about the partial government shutdown.

All signs point to the partial shutdown of the federal government stretching into a third week or beyond.

The situation appears to be a stalemate following a seemingly fruitless meeting between President Trump and congressional leaders Jan. 2.

At issue is whether Congress will fund Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump is seeking $5 billion in funding for the controversial structure, but Democratic leaders have voiced firm opposition to the barrier.

Trump invited congressional leaders back to the White House on Jan. 4 for another discussion. Both top Democrats and Republicans, however, seem at odds over resolving the conflict.

“How many more times can we say no?” incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in an interview set to air on NBC’s “Today” on Jan. 3. “Nothing for the wall.”

“We are in a shutdown because Democrats refuse to fund border security,” Trump said Jan. 2.

If the partial federal shutdown is impacting you or your loved ones, GovLoop is here to help. Here’s our list of seven resources for federal employees hurt by the shutdown, and here’s our guide to discounts and deals for those affected by it in Washington, D.C. Finally, read our roundup of stories from those hit by the shutdown, and be sure to share your own #ShutdownStories in our comments section.


Shutdown Update as of Dec. 31

The federal government partially shut down earlier this month, a standoff that has no clear end in sight before its two-week anniversary Jan. 5, 2019.

Think President Trump and Congress will resolve the situation before the new year? Don’t hold your breath. The Hill reported Dec. 31, 2018 that the issue is effectively staying untouched until 2019.

The House and Senate each met that day without attempting to fund the approximately 25 percent of the federal government that remains closed. The Senate, for example, convened for about a minute with only Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) present. No legislation handling the problem was considered, and a similar outcome emerged from the House.

The 115th Congress is now expected to adjourn Jan. 2 meaning that both congressional chambers won’t meet again before then. The 116th Congress will then convene the following day, with Democrats taking over the House from Trump’s fellow Republicans. The next available chance to end the shutdown – if ever – will come then.

Driving the current shutdown is Trump’s long-promised wall dividing the U.S. and Mexico. Trump has repeatedly insisted that the wall is essential for strengthening America’s border security against the drug trade, human trafficking and illegal immigration.

Democrats, however, have repeatedly vowed that they have no stomach for funding Trump’s wall. Democratic leaders in both chambers have instead proposed changing border security spending, but both sides have stalled on the final amount.

The Washington Post on Dec. 31 reported that House Democrats are planning on trying to reopen the government without giving Trump money for his wall.

Democrats hope to pass a stopgap spending bill that would fund the Homeland Security Department (DHS) through Feb. 8. Their bill would extend the current $1.3 billion spending level for border fencing and other security measures. Despite this, the total falls short of Trump’s request for $5 billion in wall funding.

The Democratic strategy also includes a package of six other spending bills that would reopen other parts of the federal government that have remained frozen since Dec. 22.

Major agencies including the Agriculture, Commerce and Interior departments have not opened since the shutdown started on that date. The spending package would fund those agencies through the end of the 2018 fiscal year.

The latest shutdown has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers in discomfort this holiday season, with many furloughed and potentially missing paychecks until the deadlock ends.

It’s also unclear what chances the House Democrats’ proposed bill has of surviving the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has sworn he would only advance legislation Trump backs.

Regardless of which side blinks first, many are already feeling the shutdown’s sting. WTOP reported Dec. 29 for example, the National Zoo and the Smithsonian museums can only remain open until Jan. 2 if the shutdown continues.

Unless a solution emerges before then, beloved landmarks like the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History will close for the foreseeable future. Once the agencies funding these institutions run out of money, they will no longer be available to D.C. residents, students and tourists.

The Military Times, meanwhile, reported Dec. 29 that Coast Guard service members would receive their regularly scheduled paychecks this week despite previous fears that the shutdown would delay them. DHS handles Coast Guard funding, meaning roughly 42,000 service members were slated to work through the shutdown without pay prior to Dec. 28’s announcement to the contrary.

Further complicating matters, CNN reported Dec. 31 is Trump’s executive order three days earlier freezing federal workers’ pay for 2019. Trump’s move – which was previously announced in August 2019 – scrapped a governmentwide 2.1 percent pay raise for federal employees in January 2019. Earlier this year, Trump argued that the federal budget could not support the bump.

Deadline reported Dec. 31 that Trump will discuss his latest thoughts on the shutdown during an exclusive interview with Fox News that evening.

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