Trump says Democrats want 'another government shutdown' in rambling border wall tweets

Clark Mindock

Donald Trump says he believes Democrats want a new government shutdown in order to divert attention from the controversies swirling in Virginia, and strong jobs numbers released last week.

The president's comments came just as his acting White House chief of staff said another shutdown is not off the table, and after news from Capitol Hill indicated negotiators had reached an impasse over Mr Trump's demands for border wall funding. The short-term funding deal announced last month after the longest shutdown in US history is set to expire on Friday.

"It was a very bad week for the Democrats, with the GREAT economic numbers, The Virginia disaster and the State of the Union address. Now, with the terrible offers being made by them to the Border Committee, I actually believe they want a Shutdown. They want a new subject!" Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday, referring to ongoing scandals plaguing Democrats in Virginia where blackface photos and sexual assault claims have led to calls for the governor and lietenant governor to resign.

Politicians in Washington have just under six days until temporary funding for a portion of the federal government is set to expire on Friday. The funding was agreed to last month after Mr Trump capitulated to Democrat demands to end a 35 day shutdown that left federal workers without paychecks last month.

But, bipartisan efforts to resolve the border wall dispute in the weeks since have so far proved fruitless, and individuals taking part in the negotiations have come to a standstill.

While Mr Trump has insisted he get $5.7b to build his border wall, negotiators have sought to find a figure between $1.3b and $2b that could satisfy the needs of an administration hungry to prove it takes the president’s signature campaign promise seriously while allowing democrats to claim a win of their own by not budging much to Mr Trump’s demands.

"You cannot take a shutdown off the table and you cannot take $5.7b off the table," Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, said on Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press".

Mr Mulvaney continued to blame the uncertainty over whether a new deal can be reached on the "hardcore, left wing" wing of the Demcoratic Party.

"Let's say the hardcore, left wing of the Democrat Party prevails in this negotiation and they put a bill on the president's desk wtih, say, zero money for the wall, or $800m, an absurdly low number," Mr Mulvaney said. "How does he sign that?"

The effort by Republicans to secure border wall funding for the president comes alongside a democrat push to limit the number of beds that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has access to, which they hope can curb the detention rates that been seen during the Trump administration. Democrats say that, contrary to Mr Mulvaney's assertions, it is the Republican administration that is keeping talks tied up.

"Talks have broken down because Senate Republicans are refusing to compromise on limits to the Trump administration's cruel immigration policies," a senior Democratic aide told Fox News on Sunday. "A deal that includes new physical barriers must also include limits on the number of ICE detention beds. If Senate Republicans won't compromise with us on both, we can't reach a deal".

Should the two sides fail to make a deal, that would me that a large swath of the US government that is currently operating on short term funding agreed to last month could be in jeopardy.

That includes funding for the Department of Homeland Security, as well as funding for agencies with over 700,000 federal employees who were furloughed or told to work without pay during the recent 35-day shutdown.

During that shutdown, Mr Trump attempted to force Democrats to yield to his demands only to find a united opposition who refused to budge.

After his State of the Union invitation was revoked — and as government services including air traffic control began to show major signs of strain — Mr Trump announced that he had agreed to the three week deal.