White House steps up shutdown blame game on Dems

The White House on Thursday stepped up its argument that Democrats are responsible for a six-day partial shutdown of the government that has no end in sight, arguing that President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE is in Washington while his congressional rivals are not even in town.

"The President and his team stayed in Washington over Christmas hoping to negotiate a deal that would stop the dangerous crisis on the border, protect American communities, and re-open the government. The Democrats decided to go home," the White House statement reads.

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"The only rational conclusion is that the Democrat party is openly choosing to keep our government closed to protect illegal immigrants rather than the American people. The President does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our county’s safety and security," it said.

The statement is the latest attempt by Trump and the White House to shift the blame to Democrats after the president said in an Oval Office meeting with Democrats that he would accept blame for a shutdown over funding for the wall.

The president's comments at that meeting left Democrats feeling confident the public would blame Trump over a shutdown. 

Parts of the government shut down on Saturday after Democrats blocked legislation passed by the House that would have continued government funding through Feb. 8, and that also included $5.7 billion for the wall and border security.

Democrats had repeatedly said they would not agree to Trump's demand for $5 billion in wall funding.

Earlier last week, the Senate in a bipartisan voice vote approved legislation that also funded the government through Feb. 8, but did not include money for the wall.

The shutdown is likely to last for at least several more days after GOP leadership in the House said Thursday they don't expect any votes to be held in the lower chamber this week. Separately, the Senate adjourned until Monday. 

Senate Minority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTrump praises law enforcement response to shooting at Illinois business Five dead in shooting at manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire MORE (D-Ill.) also said Thursday that there is "no end in sight" to the shutdown. 

“No end in sight to the President’s government shutdown,” he tweeted. “He’s taken our government hostage over his outrageous demand for a $5 billion border wall that would be both wasteful and ineffective.”

The White House has argued that Democrats are to blame, pointing to the passage of a bill by the GOP House that included money for the wall.

Democrats will take over the House majority on Jan. 3 and are likely to pass legislation to fund the government that does not include funding for the wall.