Border wall impasse awaits senators returning to Washington

President TrumpDonald TrumpNew Capitol Police chief to take over Friday Overnight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade Michael Wolff and the art of monetizing gossip MORE and Democratic leaders appear no closer to a resolution five days into a partial government shutdown that has furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal workers. 

The Senate is scheduled to convene at 4 p.m. Thursday, but no votes are expected until Trump and Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel Biden's belated filibuster decision: A pretense of principle at work MORE (N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats plow ahead with Jan. 6 probe, eyeing new GOP reinforcements GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto Meghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' MORE (Calif.) have a deal on a government funding bill.

So far there are no signs the two sides are anywhere close to an agreement.

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The House doesn’t expect any action on the floor within the next 24 hours, according to Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseOvernight Health Care: Biden officials says no change to masking guidance right now | Missouri Supreme Court rules in favor of Medicaid expansion | Mississippi's attorney general asks Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade S.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' GOP's Banks burnishes brand with Pelosi veto MORE’s (R-La.) office.

Schumer’s office said there was nothing new to announce on Wednesday.

House GOP leaders indicated they are in a holding pattern until the upper chamber takes action on another spending bill.

The House last week passed a measure that would provide $5.7 billion in border security and wall funding and $8.7 billion in disaster relief. But that bill is considered dead on arrival in the Senate, with Democrats and the White House remaining at odds over funding for President Trump’s border wall.

Trump and Democratic leaders have only dug deeper into their entrenched positions since the shutdown started Saturday.

Speaking from the Oval Office on Tuesday, Trump declared that federal agencies “are not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it.”

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Talks were put on pause Wednesday as the president and first lady made a surprise trip to Iraq to visit U.S. troops, though Trump told reporters traveling with him that a wall is necessary.

“Whatever it takes. We need a wall. We need safety for our country. Even from this standpoint. We have terrorists coming in through the southern border,” he said.

And House conservatives have been encouraging the president to stick to his demands.

“I don't see there is any situation where the president should give up on that demand,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark MeadowsTrump to Pence on Jan. 6: 'You don't have the courage' Trump said whoever leaked information about stay in White House bunker should be 'executed,' author claims 'Just say we won,' Giuliani told Trump aides on election night: book MORE (R-N.C.), who met with the president over the weekend, told CNN on Wednesday. “He is encouraging me and others to enter in discussions with Democrats, but as you mention I don't know that there is much progress that has been made today.”

Conservatives argue this could be Trump’s last chance to secure his administration’s funding request before the majority flips in the lower chamber next week.

“Most of what we’ve faced is really a wall of sorts with the Democrats who say that they are not willing to allocate a single dollar toward border security,” Meadows said.

Schumer and Pelosi say they are willing to wait until January when Democrats take over control of the House, at which point they plan to pass a funding measure, without wall funding, to reopen the 25 percent of the federal government that has been shuttered since Saturday.

The White House floated $2.1 billion — coming down from their initial demand of $5 billion for wall funding — without restrictions on how the money can be spent to secure the border. Schumer has offered $1.3, a proposal the president and conservatives aren’t willing to accept.

“I see no evidence he would accept anywhere close to $1.3 billion,” Meadows said.

Acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyHeadhunters having hard time finding jobs for former Trump officials: report Trump holdovers are denying Social Security benefits to the hardest working Americans Mulvaney calls Trump's comments on Capitol riot 'manifestly false' MORE predicted on Sunday the shutdown could last into the new year.

“I think it’s very possible the shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress," Mulvaney told "Fox News Sunday."

The odds of Schumer and Pelosi cutting a deal with Trump dimmed further after an 8-year-old boy Guatemalan boy died in U.S. custody on Christmas Eve, a tragedy that has inflamed the Democrats’ liberal base. He was the second migrant child to die in U.S. custody at the border this month.

Liberal activists are pressing Democratic leaders not to give any ground on border-wall funding negotiations, arguing a wall would validate what they call the administration’s “inhumane” border policies.

“There is no meeting in the middle on the wall,” said Charles Chamberlain, chairman of Democracy for America, a grassroots liberal advocacy group. “The wall is a red line for the progressive community. You cannot pay for this wall with American taxpayer dollars and consider that an acceptable compromise.”

Chamberlain also rejected Trump’s modified request for a “steel slat barrier” or fencing.

“The reason why that’s an acceptable solution for Trump is because he knows that’s still his wall,” he said. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellS.E. Cupp: 'The politicization of science and health safety has inarguably cost lives' Poll: Potential Sununu-Hassan matchup in N.H. a dead heat  Business groups urge lawmakers to stick with bipartisan infrastructure deal MORE (R-Ky.) who has brokered high-profile compromises during past breakdowns in negotiation — such as over the debt limit in 2011 and the fiscal cliff in 2012 — is steering clear of the talks, at least for now.

His staff on Wednesday reiterated that the talks are between Trump, Schumer and Pelosi.

McConnell, however, will have a tough decision if the shutdown lasts until January and Democrats send the GOP-controlled Senate a clean resolution to reopen the government.