Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Sunday he doesn’t expect the partial government shutdown to end any time soon as it continues into a third week.
Mulvaney, who also serves as director of the Office of Management and Budget, said border security funding negotiations between Democratic and Republican staffers on Saturday were fruitless.
“It was a really strange meeting,” Mulvaney said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “The discussion immediately turned to a bunch of technical … requests that the Democrats were asking for the first time ever in these negotiations. So I think this is going to drag on a lot longer.”
President Donald Trump has said he will veto any spending bill to fund the government agencies affected by the shutdown if the legislation does not include $5 billion toward his long-promised wall along the U.S. southern border. Democrats, who now control the House of Representatives, steadfastly oppose the wall.
Trump, who as a presidential candidate had insisted Mexico would pay for the wall, said Friday that he would continue the shutdown, already one of the longest in U.S. history, for “months or even years” if his funding demand for the structure isn’t met.
Despite his campaign promise to build a concrete wall, Trump has recently said he would be open to constructing a “fence” or “artistically designed steel slats” instead.
“Call it a wall, call it a fence,” Mulvaney said Sunday. “[Trump] says as long as it’s effective, he doesn’t care what you call it.”
The shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22 and has affected a range of government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department. An estimated 800,000 federal employees throughout the country have either been furloughed and going without a salary or, if deemed essential, are working without getting paid.
Though these workers will likely receive back pay after the government reopens, those who live paycheck to paycheck are struggling to pay rent or buy groceries. What’s more, government contractors may never see retroactive pay.
“If we don’t have an agreement I think by midnight on the 8th, which is Tuesday, then payroll will not go out as originally planned on Friday night,” Mulvaney said.
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