WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is preparing to make a new offer to Democrats that could end the record-breaking government shutdown in a rare Saturday address from the White House, while stopping short of declaring a national emergency on the southern border.
With the shutdown in its 29th day, Trump was expected to propose items he believes Democrats favor as part of a broader border-security package, according to two people familiar with White Houseplanning. The hope is the proposal would revive negotiations with congressional Democrats, which have been nonexistent for days.
Although the president has threatened for more than a week to declare a national emergency, such a drastic step was unlikely to occur in Saturday’s address.
The individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private deliberations, stressed late Friday that the planning remained very fluid and that nothing is firm until Trump makes his announcement.
Trump is scheduled to speak at 3 p.m.
Aides to the top Democrats in Congress - House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. - said late Friday that they had received no new offer from the White House.
The ongoing shutdown of some 25 percent of the federal government was triggered by Trump’s demands for $5.7 billion to build more than 200 miles of new wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Pelosi calls the wall “immoral,” and Democrats are refusing to offer more than $1.3 billion to extend existing funding levels for border barriers and fences. Democrats also frequently point out that Trump long claimed Mexico would pay for the wall.
Absent negotiations, the impasse has devolved into bickering between Trump and Pelosi, offering little comfort to the 800,000 federal workers who have gone without pay since Dec. 22 and have been forced to rely on food banks or other jobs.
A proxy battle - a political clash like few others - emerged over the past week between the leaders of two of the nation’s three branches of government as they leveraged the powers of their offices against one another, all the while trying to shape public sentiment.
Pelosi suggested this past week that Trump reschedule his Jan. 29 State of the Union address on Capitol Hill due to security concerns stemming from the nearly monthlong partial government shutdown. He retaliated with a last-minute cancellation of her trip with other House members to Afghanistan using a military aircraft.
The fight escalated on Friday as Pelosi accused Trump of putting herself and fellow lawmakers in danger by publicizing their plans to travel to Afghanistan, forcing them to abandon the trip. Pelosi said the State Department had determined that the trip, even using commercial aircraft, could no longer be made without endangering the safety of lawmakers, as well as of troops and support personnel due to the president’s actions.
“You never give advance notice of going into a battle area - you just never do it,” Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol. “Perhaps the president’s inexperience didn’t have him understand that protocol. The people around him, though, should have known that, because that’s very dangerous.”
The White House has forcefully denied Pelosi’s claims.
Meanwhile, the furloughed workers and those forced to work without pay will soon miss another paycheck unless the shutdown is somehow resolved, a fact that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday made it imperative for Pelosi to stay in the country this weekend.
“That’s one of the key reasons that the president did not want Speaker Pelosi to leave the country, is because if she did it would all but guarantee the fact that negotiations couldn’t take place over the weekend,” Sanders told reporters at the White House.
But Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, said the White House had not sought to schedule negotiations with the speaker for this weekend.
The impacts from the shutdown have spiraled in various directions despite efforts by the administration to limit them by calling workers at agencies including the IRS and State Department back to work, in most cases without pay.
Federal Reserve Bank of New York President John Williams on Friday said the shutdown had created “head winds” to economic growth, and a key measurement of consumer confidence - released by the University of Michigan - has fallen to its lowest level of Trump’s presidency.
The administration moved forward Friday with a broader crackdown on congressional travel: Acting White House Budget Director Russell Vought said in a memo, “Under no circumstances during a government shutdown will any government owned, rented, leased, or chartered aircraft support any congressional delegation, without the express written approval of the White House Chief of Staff.”
The White House and Democrats are in agreement on the need for border security generally and even on some specifics of what that would entail - just not on the wall.
Next week the House will take up another batch of spending bills aimed at reopening the government without funding the wall that will include some spending directed to the border. One bill will include $563 million for immigration judges, the same figure Trump has requested; another will include $524 million to expand facilities at ports of entry along the border.
The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, Paul Kane, Damian Paletta and Erica Werner contributed to this report.