Shutdown expected to drag into Christmas as talks continue
WASHINGTON — The partial federal shutdown was expected to drag into Christmas as President Donald Trump and congressional leaders remained stuck in a standoff over his border wall with Mexico with no breakthrough Saturday.
Vice President Mike Pence arrived on Capitol Hill with a counteroffer to Democrats after the two sides traded offers in recent days. At the White House, Trump heard mixed messages during a lunch with conservative lawmakers; some wanted him to fight for the wall, others preferred to get the government reopened. The Senate, which had gaveled in with the House for a rare weekend session, adjourned until Christmas Eve, but won’t return for a full session until Dec. 27.
Even a temporary measure to keep government running for a few days while negotiations continued seemed out of reach.
That means roughly 1,500 of the about 8,000 federal workers in Connecticut will remain furloughed without pay or will be required to work without pay.
Since the Pentagon’s budget was approved earlier this year, the largest group of federal workers in the state, those who are employed at the Naval Submarine Base in New London, won’t be affected by the shutdown.
Congress approved the Department of Veterans Affairs’ budget too, so VA hospitals and clinics will continue to operate as normal.
But hundreds of federal workers in Connecticut who work in the departments of Homeland Security, State, Transportation, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development and Justice will receive no more paychecks until the shutdown ends. Employees of some independent agencies, including NASA, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency are also impacted by the shutdown.
The Coast Guard will continue to patrol the waters of Long Island Sound and effect rescues, but its members will work without pay. So will the staff at the Coast Guard Academy in New London.
Transportation Safety Administration officials at Bradley Airport and the air traffic controllers that direct flights at Connecticut airports will also be on the job during the busy holiday season — without pay.
That also goes for FBI agents in Connecticut and some other Justice Department employees. All are considered “essential employees” and must work, whether they get paid or not.
Trump was demanding $5 billion for a wall, but congressional Democrats were refusing to accede in a stalemate that provided a chaotic coda for Republicans in the waning days of their two-year reign controlling government.
“This is so stupid,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, DConn., in a statement. “Congress and the White House had a bipartisan agreement to fully fund the government, but now we’re in a shutdown because the president threw a tantrum about his border wall that no one on the border even wants and he promised Mexico would pay for.”