Trump threatens U.S. government shutdown over border wall

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo

By Doina Chiacu

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would allow the federal government to shut down if Democrats do not fund his border wall and back immigration law changes, betting that maintaining a hard line will work in Republicans’ favor in November congressional elections.

However, a disruption in federal government operations could backfire on Trump if voters blame Republicans, who control Congress, for the interruption in services.

“I would be willing to ‘shut down’ government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!” Trump said on Twitter.

Americans are divided along party lines on immigration, and 81 percent of Republicans approved Trump’s handling of the issue, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released this month.

The Republican president has threatened a shutdown several times since taking office in 2017 in a bid to get immigration priorities in congressional spending bills, especially funding for a wall along the southern U.S. border. Trump has asked for $25 billion to build the wall.

“I don’t think it would be helpful, so let’s try to avoid it,” Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Congress must agree on a spending measure to fund the government by a Sept. 30 deadline.

Although Republicans control both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party have impeded a speedy legislative fix.

Standoffs over spending levels and immigration led to a three-day government shutdown, mostly over a weekend, in January and an hours-long shutdown in February.

The House in June rejected an immigration bill favored by conservative Republicans.

The Republican president has made tougher immigration laws a centerpiece of his administration, from the first ill-fated travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations to the current battle raging over the separation of illegal immigrant children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A federal judge on Friday urged the U.S. government to focus on finding deported immigrant parents whose children remain in the United States.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Trump signs budget deal after raising government shutdown threat

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks, as he stands next to Congress' $1.3 trillion spending bill, during a signing ceremony, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Steve Holland and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump signed Congress’ newly passed $1.3 trillion budget bill on Friday, ending several hours of confusion spurred by a tweeted veto threat that raised the specter of a government shutdown.

Trump said he had signed the bill, despite his qualms on some issues, because a $60 billion increase in military spending had convinced him it was a worthwhile compromise.

“But I say to Congress I will never sign another bill like this again,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to do it again.”

White House and Capitol Hill aides had been left scrambling earlier in the day after Trump criticized the six-month spending bill, despite prior assurances from the administration that he would sign it ahead of a looming midnight deadline.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” Trump wrote on Twitter at 9 a.m. EDT.

But by early afternoon, he appeared before reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House to announce he had signed the measure.

“There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” he said, patting the more than 2,000 pages of the legislation stacked on a purple box beside him.

It was unclear how seriously Republican leaders took Trump’s shutdown threat. Neither Speaker Paul Ryan nor Senate Leader Mitch McConnell commented publicly on it.

Lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Senate and House of Representatives had already left Washington for a scheduled two-week spring recess, and Trump himself was scheduled on Friday to fly to Florida for a weekend at his private resort.

IMMIGRATION CONCERNS

Trump has been frustrated that Congress has not turned over funding to make good on his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The bill includes $1.6 billion for six month’s of work on the project but he had sought $25 billion for it.

Trump also has been at odds with Democrats in Congress over the fate of Dreamer immigrants – those brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

Trump canceled the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gives work permits to the Dreamers and protects them from deportation. The decision is currently tied up in court cases.

He offered to extend the protections, tied to a sweeping set of changes to immigration laws, but subsequently rejected bipartisan offers from lawmakers.

As the six-month spending budget deal was coming together, there had been reports Trump had balked at the bill and had to be persuaded by Ryan to support it.

The conservative wing of Trump’s party had panned the bill because of its spending increases and some deficit hawks cheered Trump’s Friday morning threat to veto it.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Amanda Becker, Susan Heavey and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott)

Trump threatens to veto spending bill, raising government shutdown risk

The U.S. Capitol building is seen in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018. REUTERS/ Leah M

By Richard Cowan and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump made a surprising threat to veto Congress’ newly passed $1.3 trillion spending bill, a move that raised the specter of a possible government shutdown ahead of a midnight Friday deadline to keep federal agencies open.

In a tweet on Friday morning Trump said he was displeased about immigration issues in the bill, even though the White House had given assurances on Thursday that he would sign it. Lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives, which both are dominated by Trump’s fellow Republicans, had left Washington after passing the measure.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” Trump wrote.

Trump has sought to make good on his campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and the bill includes $1.6 billion for six month’s of work on the project, although he had sought $25 billion for it. In a tweet on Thursday he had seemed not to have a problem with partial funding because “the rest will be forthcoming.”

Trump also has been at odds with Democrats in Congress over the fate of Dreamer immigrants – those brought to the United States illegally when they were children.

At the White House, many aides were caught by surprise by the veto threat and were scrambling for answers. There was no immediate explanation for what prompted the threat other than Trump’s frequent complaints that he felt Democrats were unwilling to move his way on immigration issues.

Trump appeared to have tweeted from the White House residence, as there is no Marine guard posted outside the door of the West Wing, which is what happens when the president is in the West Wing.

A White House official would say only that “it’s the president’s tweet” and could not answer further questions. Trump is scheduled to leave later in the day for a weekend at his private resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

There was no immediate comment from Republican leaders in Congress.

THREAT OR BLUFF?

As the six-month spending deal was coming together, there were reports Trump had balked at the deal and had to be persuaded by Republican Speaker Paul Ryan to support it.

Only minutes before Trump’s threat, Ryan had tweeted: “Our men and women in uniform have earned a pay raise. That’s why yesterday, we voted to provide the biggest pay raise for our troops in 8 years.”

Conservatives and deficit hawks in Trump’s party had panned the bill because of its spending increases. Some cheered his threat to veto it.

“Please do, Mr. President,” Republican Senator Bob Corker said on Twitter. “I am just down the street and will bring you a pen. The spending levels without any offsets are grotesque, throwing all of our children under the bus.”

Democratic lawmakers said Trump created his own crisis by canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that gives work permits to certain young immigrants and protects them from deportation. The decision is currently tied up in court cases.

Trump had agreed to extend the program if Congress agreed to sweeping changes in immigration laws and provided $25 billion to build the wall and increase border security. Democrats rejected the plan.

“NOW you care about the Dreamers Mr. President?” Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky said on Twitter. “Six months after throwing their lives into chaos? Is this a cruel joke?”

In a hastily arranged news conference on Thursday, Trump’s budget director and top legislative aide insisted he would sign the bill and tried to cast the $1.6 billion in funding for border security as a downpayment on Trump’s wall pledge.

“It does a lot of what we wanted – not everything we wanted – but a lot of what we wanted on immigration,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Roberta Rampton, Susan Heavey and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Bill Trott)

Trump signs deal to end brief government shutdown, increase U.S. spending

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walk to the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., February 7, 2018.

By David Morgan, Amanda Becker and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Congress ended a brief government shutdown on Friday by reaching a wide-ranging deal that is expected to push budget deficits into the $1 trillion-a-year zone.

The bill passed by a wide margin in the Senate and survived a rebellion of 67 conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives thanks to the support of some Democrats. Those conservatives were mainly angry about non-military spending increases.

President Donald Trump signed the measure into law on Friday morning, ending a government shutdown that began just after midnight, when Congress was still debating the budget deal.

It was the second shutdown this year under the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump, who played little role in attempts by party leaders this week to end months of fiscal squabbling.

The deal is the fifth temporary government funding measure for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 and replenishes federal coffers until March 23, giving lawmakers more time to write a full-year budget.

It also extends the U.S. government’s borrowing authority until March 2019, sparing Washington politicians difficult votes on debt and deficits until after mid-term congressional elections in November.

Once known as the party of fiscal conservatives, the Republicans and Trump are now quickly expanding the U.S. budget deficit and its $20 trillion national debt. Their sweeping tax overhaul bill approved in December will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.

Nearly $300 billion in new spending included in the bill approved on Friday will ensure the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2019, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a private fiscal policy watchdog group in Washington.

Friday’s budget deal allows for $165 billion in additional defense spending over two years that will help Trump deliver on his promise to rebuild the military.

That won over many Republicans but some were still furious over the $131 billion extra made available for non-military spending, including health and infrastructure.

None of the added spending will be offset by budget savings elsewhere or revenue increases, relying instead on government borrowing. There also is no offset reduction for nearly $90 billion in new disaster aid for U.S. states and territories ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires.

PRESSURE ON MARKETS

The brief shutdown in Washington came at a sensitive time for financial markets. Stocks plunged on Thursday on heavy volume, throwing off course a nearly nine-year bull run. The S&P 500 slumped 3.8 percent.

Markets barely flinched at the last shutdown in January, but that was before a dizzying selloff that started on Jan. 30 amid concerns about inflation and higher interest rates.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, objecting to deficit spending in the bill, engaged in a nine-hour, on-again, off-again protest and floor speech late on Thursday. He had harsh words for his own party.

“Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits,” he said. “I can’t … in good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits. Really who is to blame? Both parties.”

His dissent forced the brief government shutdown, underscoring the persistent inability of Congress and Trump to deal efficiently with Washington’s most basic fiscal obligation of keeping the government open.

“Republican majorities in the House and Senate have turned the process into an embarrassing spectacle, running from one crisis directly into the next,” said Democratic Representative Nita Lowey prior to the House vote.

Republican Representative Kristi Noem told Reuters she voted against the bill because it increases non-defense spending and raises the federal debt ceiling.

“To increase domestic spending and raise the debt ceiling was coupling two very bad policy decisions and with no reforms tied to it. It was very disappointing,” she said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others in her party had opposed the bill because Republican House leaders would not guarantee her a debate later on steps to protect about 700,000 “Dreamer” immigrants from deportation.

These young people were brought illegally to the country as children years ago, mostly from Mexico. Trump said in September he would end by March 5 former Democratic President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that protects the Dreamers from deportation.

Trump urged Congress to act before then. Senate Republicans have pledged to hold a separate immigration debate this month.

House Speaker Paul Ryan had not offered Pelosi an equivalent promise in the House, although he said in a speech before the vote on Friday that he would push ahead for a deal.

“My commitment to working together on an immigration measure that we can make law is a sincere commitment,” he said. “We will solve this DACA problem.”

But Pelosi said Ryan’s words fell short, accusing him of not having “the courage to lift the shadow of fear from the lives of” Dreamers who face the prospect of deportation.

Minutes after midnight, when the short-lived shutdown began, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management sent a notice to millions of federal employees telling them to check with their agencies on whether they should report to work on Friday.

(Additional reporting by Eric Beech, Makini Brice, Katanga Johnson and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Bill Trott)

Congress expected to vote on budget to avert government shutdown

People walk by the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2018.

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives were expected to vote on a proposed budget deal on Thursday that would avert another government shutdown but that has angered fiscal conservatives who complain it would lead to a $1 trillion deficit.

The plan to keep the government operating and to increase spending over the next two years faced resistance from conservatives in the Republican Party, who favor less spending on domestic government programs. At the same time, many liberal Democrats wanted to withhold their support as leverage to win concessions on immigration policy.

That meant the bill’s passage was not assured in the House and would need some Democratic support. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican who has backed the agreement, said on Thursday he believed the chamber will pass the budget deal.

“I think we will,” Ryan told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support. We are going to deliver our share of support.”

Mark Meadows, chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, called the deal “eye-popping and eyebrow-raising.”

“We took an official position last night to say we can’t support this,” he told CNN on Thursday.

Republicans control both chambers of Congress.

The rare bipartisan deal reached by Senate leaders on Wednesday raises spending on military and domestic programs by almost $300 billion over the next two years.

It would allow for $165 billion in extra defense spending and $131 billion more for non-military programs, including health, infrastructure, disaster relief and efforts to tackle an opioid crisis in the country.

It would stave off a government shutdown before a Thursday night deadline and extend the federal government’s debt ceiling until March 2019, putting off for more than a year the risk of a debt default by the United States.

CONSERVATIVE OPPOSITION

The agreement, backed by Republican President Donald Trump, disappointed conservative House Republicans and outside groups.

“It’s not like Republicans aren’t concerned about disaster relief, or Republicans aren’t concerned about funding community health centers or dealing with the opioid crisis,” U.S. Representative Warren Davidson, a Republican, said in an interview with National Public Radio.

“But when you add them all up, it adds to an awful lot of spending. … It’s not compassionate to bankrupt America.”

Liberal Democrats meanwhile opposed the deal because it does not include an agreement to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of “Dreamers,” young people brought illegally to the United States as children.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday staged an eight-hour speech on the House floor in support of immigration legislation, including reading letters from Dreamers pleading to be allowed to stay in the United States.

A number of lawmakers who supported the bill acknowledged the deal was not perfect. “It’s not pretty,” Republican U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger said on CNN.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester said he hoped House Democrats would back the measure. “We don’t want the perfect to get in the road of the good,” he told the cable network.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said many lawmakers believe the defense spending in the bill was essential. “We’re going to get it through because most people will support it,” he told Fox News.

Senate Republicans planned a procedural vote on a stand-alone bill to increase military funding for the rest of the year to demonstrate support for Trump’s promised defense build-up.

Democrats will not support it because it does not contain similar spending increases for non-military programs. But the Senate’s failure to advance the bill will not damage the budget legislation, which is due for a vote later in the day.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway told Fox News the agreement provides long-term certainty in the budget and funding for Trump priorities including infrastructure and military funding.

Failure to agree on spending led to a partial three-day shutdown of government agencies last month.

(Reporting by Makini Brice, Katanga Johnson, Doina Chiacu; Editing by Frances Kerry and Alistair Bell)

Senate leaders in a rare display of bipartisanship, reach $300 billion federal spending deal

U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham speaks to reporters outside the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. February 7, 2018.

By Richard Cowan and Amanda Becker

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. congressional leaders, in a rare display of bipartisanship, on Wednesday reached a two-year budget deal to raise government spending by almost $300 billion, attempting to curb Washington’s fiscal policy squabbling but also widening the federal deficit.

The agreement, announced by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives, would lift caps on defense funding and some domestic spending. It also would postpone a reckoning with the federal debt limit.

Along with President Donald Trump’s tax cuts that were approved by Congress in December, the new round of spending would further add to the bulging deficit and may face resistance in the House from Democrats as well as Republican fiscal hawks.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said on the Senate floor.

The plan will need to be passed in the House and the Senate, both controlled by Trump’s fellow Republicans, before it can be sent to the White House for the president to sign into law.

House Democrats have warned they will not back the deal unless Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan promises to advance separate legislation on immigration policy.

Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate Democrats, touted the deal, saying, “It should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this Congress and hampered our middle class.”

The defense spending increase in it should allow Trump to make good on his campaign promise for a military build-up.

The White House said the deal includes an extension, until March 2019, of the government’s debt ceiling. The Treasury Department has been warning that without an extension in borrowing authority from Congress, the government would run out of borrowing options in the first half of next month, risking an unprecedented debt default.

The agreement also funds disaster relief, infrastructure and programs addressing opioid abuse, the Senate leaders said.

DEFICIT INCREASE

White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said the deal would increase spending by “just shy” of $300 billion.

A senior congressional aide said this amount of additional spending would not be offset by any spending cuts or new tax revenue, meaning an increase in the federal deficit.

“This really is the moment where it has become clear that despite record levels of debt and approaching trillion dollar deficits, Congress has stopped caring about what they’re doing to the fiscal health of the country,” said Maya MacGuineas, head of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a group that advocates for long-term fixes to Washington’s debt problems.

Aside from the budget deal, lawmakers were also trying to reach agreement by Thursday to avoid a government shutdown and fund the government until March 23. If that fails, the U.S. government would suffer its second shutdown this year, after a partisan standoff over immigration policy led to a three-day partial shutdown last month.

In financial markets, yields on benchmark 10-year notes rose on news of the budget deal, on expectations of higher growth and potentially greater Treasury supply.

A large uptick in issuance is expected after Congress raises the debt ceiling, which along with higher inflation expectations has weighed on bonds in the past week.

A congressional source familiar with the agreement said it would increase non-defense spending by $131 billion and include $20 billion for infrastructure spending. It also would extend funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years instead of the current six, the source added.

Passage of the plan would ease the brinkmanship over spending that roils Washington so regularly that financial markets barely flinch at the threat of a government shutdown.

Immigration again emerged as a possible point of contention. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who helped negotiate the accord, nevertheless said she would oppose it unless Ryan promises to advance legislation to protect hundreds of thousands of young adult immigrants, known as “Dreamers,” brought to the United States illegally as children.

January’s shutdown came after Democrats sought to have a spending bill include protections for the Dreamers that Trump has rescinded effective in March.

Republicans are eager to keep spending and immigration separate. Trump threatened on Tuesday to upend budget talks by saying he would welcome a government shutdown if Congress were not able to agree to changes in immigration law that he said would prevent criminals from entering the country.

(Additional reporting by David Morgan, Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu in Washington and April Joyner in New York; Writing by Alistair Bell; Editing by Will Dunham)

Government shutdown fizzles on spending, immigration deal in Congress

Clouds pass over the U.S. Capitol at the start of the third day of a shut down of the federal government in Washington, U.S., January 22, 2018.

By Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Congress voted on Monday to end a three-day U.S. government shutdown, approving the latest short-term funding bill as Democrats accepted promises from Republicans for a broad debate later on the future of young illegal immigrants.

The fourth temporary funding bill since October easily passed the Senate and the House of Representatives. President Donald Trump later in the evening signed the measure, largely a product of negotiations among Senate leaders.

Enactment by Trump of the bill allowed the government to reopen fully on Tuesday and keep the lights on through Feb. 8, when the Republican-led Congress will have to revisit budget and immigration policy, two disparate issues that have become closely linked.

The House approved the funding bill by a vote of 266-150 just hours after it passed the Senate by a vote of 81-18.

Trump’s attempts to negotiate an end to the shutdown with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer collapsed on Friday in recriminations and fingerpointing. The Republican president took a new swipe at Democrats as he celebrated the Senate’s pact.

“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses,” Trump said in a statement. “We will make a long term deal on immigration if and only if it’s good for the country.”

Immigration and the budget are entangled because of Congress’ failure to approve a full-scale budget on time by Oct. 1, 2017, just weeks after Trump summarily ordered an end by March to Obama-era legal protections for young immigrants known as the “Dreamers.”

The budget failure has necessitated passage by Congress of a series of temporary funding measures, giving Democrats leverage each step of the way since they hold votes needed to overcome a 60-vote threshold in the Senate for most legislation.

With government spending authority about to expire again at midnight on Friday, Democrats withheld support for a fourth stopgap spending bill and demanded action for the Dreamers.

‘DREAMERS’

The roughly 700,000 young people were brought to the United States illegally as children, mainly from Mexico and Central America. They mostly grew up in the United States.

Former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program gave the Dreamers legal protections and shielded them from deportation.

Democrats, as a condition of supporting a new spending stopgap, demanded a resolution of the uncertain future Trump created for the Dreamers with his DACA order last year.

But Democratic leaders, worried about being blamed for the disruptive shutdown that resulted, relented in the end and accepted a pledge by Republicans to hold a debate later over the fate of the Dreamers and related immigration issues.

Tens of thousands of federal workers had begun closing down operations for lack of funding on Monday, the first weekday since the shutdown, but essential services such as security and defense operations had continued.

The shutdown undercut Trump’s self-crafted image as a dealmaker who would repair the broken culture in Washington. It forced him to cancel a weekend trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

The U.S. government cannot fully operate without funding bills that are voted in Congress regularly. Washington has been hampered by frequent threats of a shutdown in recent years as the two parties fight over spending, immigration and other issues. The last U.S. government shutdown was in 2013.

Both sides in Washington had tried to blame each other for the shutdown. The White House on Saturday refused to negotiate on immigration issues until the government reopened.

On Monday, Trump met separately at the White House with Republican senators who have taken a harder line on immigration and with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Doug Jones.

Reuters/Ipsos polling data released on Monday showed Americans deeply conflicted about the immigration issue, although majorities in both parties supported the DACA program.

‘WHY DO WE HAVE TO WAIT?’

Some liberal groups were infuriated by the decision to reopen the government.

“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats – led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats – is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Markets have absorbed the shutdown drama over the past week.

U.S. stocks advanced on Monday as each of Wall Street’s main indexes touched a record intraday level after the shutdown deal.

For Jovan Rodriguez of Brooklyn, New York, a Dreamer whose family came from Mexico when he was 3 years old and ultimately settled in Texas, the latest development was more of the same.

“Why do we have to wait – again? It’s like our lives are suspended in limbo,” he said. And they have been for months. I don’t trust the Republicans and I don’t trust (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell with just a promise. That’s not good enough any more.”

(Additional reporting by David Morgan, Ginger Gibson, Amanda Becker, Blake Brittain, Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, Diane Bartz, Lucia Mutikani, Yasmeen Abdutaleb and Patricia Zengerle in Washington, Megan Davies in New York and Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif.; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney)

Statue of Liberty to reopen; shutdown keeps other parks, monuments closed

The Statue of Liberty is seen through fencing from a ferry dock following a U.S. government shutdown in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 21, 2018.

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Statue of Liberty will reopen on Monday even if the U.S. government shutdown extends into the work week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday, vowing to use state funds to keep the landmark monument in operation.

Dozens of other national parks and monuments were expected to remain partially or entirely closed after Congress failed to agree on a spending plan to keep the government running past a Friday midnight deadline.

In the hours leading up to the shutdown, the Trump administration worked on ways to keep hundreds of parks open without staff in an effort to avoid public anger, although it was unclear which ones would close.

“Not all parks are fully open but we are all working hard to make as many areas as accessible to the public as possible,” U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Twitter on Saturday.

The hit-or-miss closures forced tourists and residents alike to alter their plans. In lower Manhattan, where ferries normally embark for the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, out-of-town visitors expressed frustration that the site was closed.

And San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman posted a photo of a “closed” sign outside Cabrillo National Monument on Twitter.

“I had planned to do some tide pool repeats to get some hill work in on my bicycle ride this morning,” she wrote, referring to a local bike route. “Change of plans.”

The National Parks Conservation Association, an advocacy group, estimated that one-third of the 417 national park sites were shuttered, “including places like the Statue of Liberty, presidential homes, and other historic and cultural sites primarily made up of buildings that can be locked.”

Yellowstone National Park, a 3,500-square-mile (9,065 square km) wilderness located mostly in Montana, remained open but offered limited services, with visitor centers closed and park rangers absent. The association warned that the lack of staff could pose dangers to visitors.

Xanterra Parks & Resorts, a private company that manages lodges, concessions and restaurants in numerous national parks including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Rocky Mountain and Zion, said they will remain open during the shutdown.

In Washington, the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will remain open through Monday, using prior-year funds. In a tweet, the Smithsonian said it will update its status beyond Monday “as soon as we know.” But in Philadelphia, visitors were turned away at the Liberty Bell.

During the last shutdown in 2013, a number of governors used state funds to keep parks open, including the Statue of Liberty, which at the time cost $61,600 per day to reopen.

At a news conference at the Statue of Liberty, Cuomo said the site generates tourism revenue, adding that the monument serves as a welcoming beacon to immigrants arriving in the United States.

“We don’t want to lose the income,” he said. “And symbolically, you can shut down the government, but you can’t shut down the Statue of Liberty.”

In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey committed state funds to keep the Grand Canyon open, including trash removal, snow plowing and public restrooms, according to Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak.

“We recognize it’s a huge economic attractor and has a big impact not just on rural areas around the Grand Canyon but the state as a whole,” Ptak said, adding that the expected cost is around $100,000 per week.

But in South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard has said he would not take any action to keep the monument open during a shutdown.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Trump warns of government shutdown threat ahead of meeting with lawmakers

Trump warns of government shutdown threat ahead of meeting with lawmakers

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday again raised the possibility of a U.S. government shutdown by week’s end – blaming Democrats for that possible outcome – one day before he is due to host Republican and Democratic congressional leaders for talks on a spending bill.

Trump’s warning came as some of the most conservative members of the House of Representatives pushed for increases in military spending along with either a freeze or reduction in domestic programs.

Their bid is likely to be rejected by Democrats, who make up a minority in Congress, and could further complicate behind-the-scenes negotiations by congressional leaders that have been going on for months aimed at figuring out government spending for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

A temporary spending bill passed by Congress is due to run out on Friday. If Congress cannot agree on a measure to continue the funding, parts of the federal government could shut down.

As a condition of backing a new spending measure, Democrats have demanded legislative protections for the nearly 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought into the United States. But Trump has criticized that demand, saying it could set the stage for an impasse.

“The Democrats are really looking at something that is very dangerous for our country,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “They are looking at shutting down.”

In response, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted: “President Trump is the only person talking about a government shutdown. Democrats are hopeful the president will be open to an agreement to address the urgent needs of the American people and keep government open.”

The jockeying so close to Friday’s midnight deadline added suspense in Washington while Republican congressional leaders labored to demonstrate that they can govern and spare the country the chaos of a government shutdown at Christmas time that likely would not sit well with voters.

(Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Trott)

Democrats skip Trump meeting, raising risk of government shutdown

Democrats skip Trump meeting, raising risk of government shutdown

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic leaders in Congress skipped a meeting with President Donald Trump on Tuesday that was to have focused on the budget, raising the risk of a government shutdown next month with both sides far apart on the terms of an agreement.

After Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi informed Trump they would not attend the meeting at the White House, the president and Republican congressional leaders went ahead with the talks without them.

Trump left empty seats on either side of him, with name cards for Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader, and Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives. He also criticized them as the cameras rolled during a picture-taking session.

“We have a lot of differences,” Trump said. “So they’ve decided not to show up. They’ve been all talk and they’ve been no action and now it’s even worse. Now it’s not even talk.”

Schumer and Pelosi said they pulled out of the meeting because of a tweet Trump sent earlier in the day attacking them as weak on illegal immigration and bent on raising taxes.

“I don’t see a deal!” the Republican president wrote on Twitter.

Pelosi tweeted after Trump’s White House session that “his empty chair photo opp showed he’s more interested in stunts than in addressing the needs of the American people. Poor Ryan and McConnell relegated to props. Sad!” she added, referring to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan,

Trump said he would “absolutely blame the Democrats” if a government shutdown takes place.

A Dec. 8 deadline is looming for passing a spending measure needed to fund a wide range of federal government programs.Although Republicans control both chambers of the U.S. Congress, their leaders will likely need to rely on at least some Democratic votes to pass the measure.

Democrats have said they will demand help for the “Dreamers” – young people brought to the United States illegally as children – as part of their price for providing votes on the budget measure.

But Trump said in a tweet late on Tuesday: “I ran on stopping illegal immigration and won big. They can’t now threaten a shutdown to get their demands.”

Congress has three choices: approve a massive bill for more than $1 trillion to keep the government operating through Sept. 30, 2018; pass a shorter extension of current funding to buy more time; or fail to pass anything and risk a partial government shutdown.

On Capitol Hill, Schumer said he and Pelosi believed the best path forward would be to negotiate with Republican leaders in Congress instead of going to the White House for a “show meeting.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Peter Cooney)