Parts Of The Government Have Shut Down
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas - holly, carols and now a partial government shutdown that began at midnight. President Trump is battling with Congress over demands that lawmakers provide nearly $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. We're joined now by NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis. Sue, thanks so much for being with us.
SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Thanks, Scott.
SIMON: What's the latest - quick shutdown or will it last?
DAVIS: It became pretty clear by early evening on Friday that there would be a shutdown, so it sort of began with a whimper. Members had already adjourned and gone home at midnight when the shutdown officially started. Where we're at as the bill is in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the next vote is going to be on what can pass. And that is a bill that's going to need to be able to overcome a 60 vote hurdle and have the guarantee from President Trump that he will sign it. Negotiations are expected to continue through the weekend. In the House, lawmakers have been told that they'll be given 24 hours' notice before there's a vote. What needs to happen is one party is going to have to blink. Either Republicans and the president are going to have to agree to less money for the wall or Democrats are going to have to agree to it but try to extract some kind of compromise to make it something they can support. You know, the wall has just become just this volatile political symbol of this presidency. So it's added and loaded of all the politics between the two parties that doesn't make compromise very easy on this.
SIMON: And it's the third - the third shutdown in a year. This is becoming a habit. Remind us how the federal government and citizens are affected by a shutdown like this.
DAVIS: It's partial because much of the government has already been funded. Congress has already passed much of the funding bills for things like the Defense Department. This does apply to things - including the Homeland Security Department, the Transportation Department. It means that hundreds of thousands of federal workers are now furloughed. They will work without - or they will not work and not get paid until the government shutdown ends. And there are hundreds of thousands of employees who will work but not get paid, people who are considered so-called essential employees. That's people like the TSA agents at the airports that you'll be seeing over the holiday travel weekend. Border Patrol - they're all still required to report to work. So the practical impact is most Americans won't really feel this.
SIMON: Well, what are some ways in which some Americans might feel it, I mean, aside from the countdown clocks that are thoughtfully put to the right of Anderson Cooper's face?
DAVIS: (Laughter) Right. Of course, there are some effects. If you are planning a trip to a national park this week, you'll probably still be able to get in, but there's not going to be any staff there. The real-world implications is most Americans will not feel it. The bad news for Americans is this shutdown is also a symptom of the disease of government dysfunction that has become more and more the norm of Washington. This is the fourth shutdown since 2013. And none of these shutdowns have ever resulted in any lasting or meaningful legislation aside from reopening the government. I like to remind people that funding the government is the bare minimum of what Congress has the responsibility to do. It's like the legislative equivalent of getting a D and thinking, all right, we passed.
SIMON: Yeah. To look forward, Democrats take control of the House on January 3. President Trump will confront a divided Congress. Is there any reason to think that these kind of confrontations won't just multiply?
DAVIS: We are entering a whole new chapter of the Trump presidency. And the president is going to have to make a decision over whether he is going to want to cut deals with House Democrats expected to be led by Nancy Pelosi. That Congress begins on January 3. So far, the indication is he doesn't want to do that. There had been a deal on this government funding bill. It was on a glide path. The Senate had already passed it. And the president decided he wanted to blow it up after urging from conservatives and his allies on the outside. And I like to remind people the president is up for re-election in 2020. And he has time and time again proven himself to be someone who wants to appeal more to the base, and that does not necessarily lend itself to more compromise.
SIMON: NPR's congressional correspondent, Sue Davis, thank - you're going to be busy. Thanks so much for being with us.
DAVIS: You're welcome.
SIMON: No shutdown for you, is there?
DAVIS: (Laughter) No, certainly not.
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