WASHINGTON — President Trump mentioned Tuesday that he intends to maintain the federal authorities closed till he secures the specified funding from Congress for his promised border wall and claimed that “many” federal employees have urged him to proceed the shutdown as a result of they assist constructing a wall.
In an Oval Workplace look on Christmas morning, Trump defended his plan to assemble a wall alongside the border with Mexico that he insisted solely an Olympic athlete would be capable to scale.
About 25 p.c of the federal government is shut down for the fourth straight day with Congress at a stalemate over Trump’s demand for $5 billion in wall building cash.
“I can’t let you know when the federal government goes to reopen,” he mentioned. “I can let you know it’s not going to be open till we have now a wall, a fence, no matter they’d wish to name it. I’ll name it no matter they need. But it surely’s all the identical factor. It’s a barrier from individuals pouring into our nation.”
He added, “If you happen to don’t have that, then we’re simply not opening.”
Trump made his feedback to reporters throughout a Christmas photograph classes within the Oval Workplace, the place he spoke by video teleconference with service members from all 5 branches of the armed forces who’re stationed in Alaska, Bahrain, Guam and Qatar.
All informed, about 800,000 of two.1 million federal employees nationwide — or greater than a 3rd — are estimated to be affected ultimately by the shutdown. Trump claimed that a lot of them assist the shutdown.
“Lots of these employees have mentioned to me, communicated — keep out till you get the funding for the wall,” Trump mentioned. “These federal employees need the wall.”
However his declare conflicts with the accounts of federal employees’ union leaders.
“Federal workers mustn’t should pay the private value for all of this dysfunction,” mentioned Tony Reardon, president of the Nationwide Treasury Staff Union, which represents 150,000 members at 33 federal companies and departments. “This shutdown is a travesty. Congress and the White Home haven’t completed their basic jobs of retaining the federal government open.”
In a survey of 1,500 union members, about 85 p.c mentioned they’ve restricted vacation season spending or are planning to take action due to uncertainty about earnings, Reardon mentioned on Christmas Eve. He mentioned they embody one who mentioned “I’ve not too long ago misplaced my spouse and now . . .. I’ve to place off shopping for her gravestone. Breaks my coronary heart.”
One other responded, “I can’t purchase any Christmas presents and am contemplating returning these I have already got. Mortgage firms and utility firms gained’t wait to receives a commission,” in line with Reardon.
Once more on Tuesday, Trump tried to put blame for Washington’s price range stalemate solely on Democrats, portraying their leaders as disingenuous and claiming that they assist the notion of a bodily barrier alongside the border and object to constructing the wall solely as a result of it’s Trump’s concept.
Trump likened the scenario to his Could 2017 firing of James Comey as FBI director, saying “Democrats hated him” till he was fired after which Comey was handled as a hero.
Whilst he vowed to maintain the federal government closed to safe wall funding, Trump claimed that a lot of his envisioned wall was already being constructed. He mentioned he had awarded a contract “at an excellent value” for a 115-mile part of wall in Texas and plans to go to the positioning in January for “a ground-breaking” ceremony.
Administration officers have supplied no particulars about this building challenge or the phrases of the contract.
Trump mentioned he hopes to have all parts of the wall accomplished — both previous fencing renovated or new building — by Election Day 2020, a sign that he sees constructing the wall mainly as a political challenge tied to his reelection probabilities.
Trump mentioned Tuesday that the wall as he envisions it might be a fortress that no regular human may breach.
“Now there could be the case of an Olympic champion who can recover from the wall, however for essentially the most half you aren’t in a position to do it,” he mentioned. “Very excessive. It’s gonna be 30 ft. A lot of it’s 30 ft excessive. Some if it’s low. However in some areas we have now it as excessive as 30 ft. That’s like a three-story constructing.”