Congress returns to Washington for its first full week of legislative business since control of the House reverted to Democrats, but politicians will be confronted with the same lingering question: When will the partial government shutdown end?
One Republican senator says he’s offered US President Donald Trump a possible solution.
Sen. Lindsey Graham is encouraging Mr Trump to reopen government and continue negotiating with Democrats over the wall Mr Trump wants to build on the US-Mexico border.
If there’s no deal at the end of that time, Mr Graham says Mr Trump would be free to take the more dramatic step of declaring a national emergency to build it.
But Mr Trump still wants a deal on funding for the wall before agreeing to reopen shuttered government departments.
But the Democrats are standing firm, too. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, insists that Mr Trump reopen the government first.
Their weeks-old standoff led to the partial government shutdown, now on day 24 without a clear end in sight — and now the longest government shutdown in US history.
On Monday morning Mr Trump tweeted who he thinks is to blame for this state of affairs.
Mr Trump’s Monday morning tweets presented the view that he is not to blame for the shutdown and that he wanted to deal.
Targeting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Mr Trump argued that the shutdown “has become their, and the Democrats, fault!” But Mr Trump weeks ago asserted that he would “own” the shutdown and polls show that people mostly think that he is to blame.
According to a poll by CNN, 55 per cent say he is more responsible for the shutdown than the Democrats, while 32 per cent say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats.
Mr Trump has kept Washington on edge over whether he would resort to a state of emergency, citing what he says is a “crisis” of drug smuggling and the trafficking of women and children at the border. The president initially sounded as though such a move was imminent, but then pulled back. He has said several times since he first mentioned the idea in public this month that he prefers a legislative solution.
A key question is how much more time is Mr Trump willing to give politicians.
Sen. Graham, who spoke with Mr Trump by telephone on Sunday morning, said the legislative path “is just about shut off” and blamed intransigence by Ms. Pelosi. The House Speaker’s office had no immediate comment.
Democrats oppose an emergency declaration but may be powerless to block it. Some Republicans are wary, too, fearing how a future Democratic president might use that authority. Such a move, should Mr Trump ultimately go that route, would almost certainly be challenged in the courts.