Short on so­lu­tions, long on blame in 2nd shut­down week­end

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Nation - BY ZEKE MILLER, JILL COLVIN AND LISA MASCARO

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Democrats are trad­ing blame for the par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down but do­ing lit­tle sub­stan­tive talk­ing with each other, as the dis­rup­tion in fed­eral ser­vices and pub­lic em­ploy­ees’ pay slogs into an­other week­end.

Trump upped the brinkman­ship by threat­en­ing anew to close the bor­der with Mex­ico to press Con- gress to cave to his de­mand for money to pay for a wall. Democrats vowed to pass leg­is­la­tion restor­ing the gov­ern­ment as soon as they take con­trol of the House on Thurs­day, but that won’t ac­com­plish any­thing un­less Trump and the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Se­nate go along with it.

Cooped up in the White House af­ter can­cel­ing his planned va­ca­tion to his pri­vate Florida club, Trump tweeted Satur­day that he’s “in the White House wait­ing for the Democrats to come on over and make a deal on Bor­der Se­cu­rity.” But there has been lit­tle di­rect con­tact be­tween the sides dur­ing the stale­mate, and Trump did not ask Repub­li­cans, who hold a mo­nop­oly on power in Wash­ing­ton for an­other five days, to keep Congress in ses­sion.

While House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi has been spend­ing the shut­down va­ca­tion­ing in Hawaii, the pres­i­dent did leave the White House on Fri­day night to join the three men at the cen­ter of the ne­go­ti­a­tions, Vice Pres- ident Mike Pence, Trump’s se­nior ad­viser and son-in­law Jared Kush­ner and act­ing chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, for din­ner at Pence’s res­i­dence at the Naval Ob­ser­va­tory.

As he called for Democrats to ne­go­ti­ate on the wall, Trump brushed off blame that his ad­min­is­tra­tion bore any re­spon­si­bil­ity for the re­cent deaths of two mi­grant chil­dren in Bor­der Pa­trol cus­tody. Trump claimed the deaths were “strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pa­thetic im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies that al­low peo­ple to make the long trek think­ing they can en­ter our coun­try il­le­gally.” His com­ments on Twit­ter came as his Home­land Se­cu­rity sec­re­tary met with med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als and or­dered pol­icy changes meant to bet­ter pro­tect chil­dren de­tained at the bor­der.

Mean­while, the ef­fects to the pub­lic of the im­passe grew as the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, which had the money to func­tion a week longer than some agen­cies, im­ple­mented its shut­down plan at mid­night Fri­day night. EPA spokes­woman Molly Block said many of the agency’s 14,000 em­ploy­ees were be­ing fur­loughed, while dis­as­ter­re­sponse teams and cer­tain other em­ploy­ees deemed es­sen­tial would stay on the job. That in­cludes work­ers needed for pre­vent­ing im­me­di­ate pub­lic health threats at more than 800 Su­per­fund haz­ardous-waste sites.

Also run­ning short on money: the Smith­so­nian In­sti­tu­tion, which said its mu­se­ums, art gal­leries and zoo in the cap­i­tal will close start­ing mid­week if the par­tial shut­down drags on.

But fed­eral flood in­sur­ance poli­cies will con­tinue to be is­sued and re­newed, in a re­ver­sal prompted by pres­sure from law­mak­ers, said Repub­li­can Sen. Marco Ru­bio of Florida.

“We are far apart,”

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah San­ders told

CBS on Fri­day.

The shut­down is forc­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of fed­eral work­ers and con­trac­tors to stay home or work with­out pay.

Mul­vaney said Democrats are no longer ne­go­ti­at­ing with the ad­min­is­tra­tion over an ear­lier of­fer by the White House to ac­cept less than the $5 bil­lion Trump wants for the wall.

Democrats said the White House of­fered to ac­cept $2.5 bil­lion for bor­der se­cu­rity, but that Se­nate Demo­cratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence that it wasn’t ac­cept­able. It was also not guar­an­teed that Trump would set­tle for that amount.

“There’s not a sin­gle Demo­crat talk­ing to the pres­i­dent of the United States about this deal,” Mul­vaney said Fri­day.

SPENCER PLATT Getty Im­ages

Peo­ple con­gre­gate in lower Manhattan af­ter tak­ing the cruise to see the Statue of Lib­erty. De­spite the gov­ern­ment shut­down, Lady Lib­erty and the Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian, two ma­jor tourists des­ti­na­tions, have so far re­mained open.

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