Why this government shutdown represents a ‘historic first’


JUDY WOODRUFF: From President Trump today,
a new warning. He says the partial government shutdown will
last as long as it takes to get funding for a southern border wall. Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins
begins our coverage. LISA DESJARDINS: Public trash cans spilling
onto national parks, as the government shutdown spills into its 12th day. National Park Services can’t clean up the
mess until Congress and the president reach a spending deal. President Donald Trump started the day meeting
with his Cabinet and indicating no change in his demand from Democrats. DONALD TRUMP, President of the United States:
It’s too important to subject to walk away from. As long as it takes. I mean, look, I’m prepared. I think the people of the country think I’m
right. LISA DESJARDINS: Hours later, he hosted a
meeting with top congressional leaders, including Democrats, in the White House Situation Room. Afterward, it was clear they are not changing
their proposals either. SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), Minority Leader: We
want strong border security. We believe ours are better. But to use the shutdown as hostage, which
they had no argument against, is wrong. LISA DESJARDINS: Congressman Kevin McCarthy,
who will be the top Republican in the House starting tomorrow, told reporters the group
of leaders will next meet Friday, this as the effects of the partial shutdown widen. Today, Smithsonian Museums locked their doors
and furloughed workers after burning through surplus funding that had allowed them to stay
open for nearly two weeks. Disappointed visitors were left in the cold. MAN: Amazing. It’s closed. NIKOLAS SKAR, Visitor: We knew about the shutdown,
but we thought it might be open even today. Yes, it’s a disappointment. Of course it is. JUDITH RIVETTE, Visitor: Not necessary, really
just all about posturing. And this could be worked on a whole different
way. Sensible minds will prevail eventually, we
like to think. LISA DESJARDINS: The next move is expected
from Democrats, who will take over the House of Representatives tomorrow. Within hours, they are expected to try a new
tack, isolating the wall issue by passing one bill dealing with the border security
fight. A separate bill would reopen every other currently
shuttered agency. But neither of those spending bills includes
money for the wall, a position the White House said in a statement yesterday was a nonstarter. The president wants up to $5 billion for a
wall or steel slat fence at the border. The Democrats now offer $1.3 billion for border
fencing, and another $300 million for other security installments. Meanwhile, at the quiet Capitol, on the last
full day of the outgoing Congress, Senate Chaplain Barry Black opened with an unusually
blunt prayer. BARRY BLACK, Senate Chaplain: Rise mercifully
upon our darkened hearts, and deliver us from the trench warfare of yet another government
shutdown. LISA DESJARDINS: Each day of the shutdown,
stakes and political pressure rise, with 800,000 federal employees unsure if they will get
their next paycheck. JUDY WOODRUFF: And Lisa is here now with more. So, so we just heard the chaplain say it,
trench warfare. And, Lisa, in your report, you laid out where
things stand. What exactly are Democrats trying to do tomorrow? LISA DESJARDINS: Well, I think they’re trying
to test the president’s resolve. And they’re trying to again say he’s responsible
for a shutdown. What they’re doing is going to pass one bill
that would fund most of the government that is shut down, and that would put almost 500,000
federal workers back to work immediately for the rest of the year. Then a separate bill would fund the Department
of Homeland Security only for about a month. Democrats say that that would allow for time
to debate whether wall money should happen or not. The president has not signaled that he would
support this at all. And we just got this readout from Democrats
who say they’re familiar with the meeting that Chuck Schumer asked repeatedly if the
president would support this bill to allow most of government to reopen. And the president said to them, “I would look
foolish if I did that.” We haven’t gotten a response from the White
House yet. But this is what Democrats say happened in
the meeting. JUDY WOODRUFF: And I talked a little while
ago, taped an interview with the White House communications director, who said they wouldn’t
go along with that. But we will hear that. So what is the sense of whether a breakthrough,
when a breakthrough could even be possible. LISA DESJARDINS: Next week is going to be
key as to whether this could end before workers start losing pay, or if it’s going to be a
long one. Unfortunately, Judy, the sense I get from
top Republicans and Democrats at Congress is that they think both sides are digging
in, they think this could last quite a long, quite a few more days, if not more weeks,
and we’re hearing those words weeks now from some of our leaders. JUDY WOODRUFF: And so at this point, we saw
who’s being affected to some extent, but when are more government employees going to be
affected? Where are they? Who are they? LISA DESJARDINS: I think a key day to watch
is January 8, or about a week from now. That is the day on which most of these affected
agencies, right around that day, they each have a different one, they have to notify
payroll. And if they don’t have funding by that day,
around a week from now, that next paycheck, which is due in two Fridays, will be delayed
or frozen. So that is where the pressure can mount on
Congress. About a week from now, we will know if workers
will get their pay or not. Now, those are those who are federal workers. Contractors, Judy, as we have been reporting,
have already been affected by this, some of them losing their pay, and a lot of them very
nervous. Also, Judy, one thing to remember, this is
hitting federal workers even harder now, because their medical deductibles are restarting now. So anyone with medical expenses start back
at zero, with thousands of dollars of medical costs, and no paycheck right now. JUDY WOODRUFF: A lot of people familiar with
having to — having to think about that. The other thing, Lisa, all this is happening
in the middle of a transfer of power, the House of Representatives going from Republican
to Democratic control. LISA DESJARDINS: That’s fascinating. This is a historic first. We have never had a shutdown in between Congresses,
much less in between a transfer of power like this. And I think we are seeing that this is lengthening
this shutdown because the two sides are testing each other. Rather than beginning by working with each
other, this is a show of power, basically a game of chicken between Democrats and the
Republican president. One other thing I think lengthening this in
this time is the fact that among those agencies affected, not Congress, not the White House. Congress has funded itself, all of its staff
fully paid, the same for the White House. And by law, Cabinet officers and anyone appointed
by the White House, they are paid during a shutdown. So as much as they control what happens to
federal workers, none of the workers directly under them are affected. JUDY WOODRUFF: I wonder what the public thinks
about all that. LISA DESJARDINS: I think I can guess. JUDY WOODRUFF: Lisa Desjardins, thank you. LISA DESJARDINS: You’re welcome. JUDY WOODRUFF: And we will continue our look
at the shutdown. As we just mentioned, we will get a view from
the White House and we will hear from a leading Democrat in Congress. That’s right after the new summary.




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