Trump vows no end to shutdown until wall funded

Congress returns to session on Thursday, but chances are slim that a deal will be reached to end the partial US government shutdown.
Trump says the partial government shutdown will last until there's an agreement on his promised border wall.
US President Donald Trump holds a video call with US military service members in the Oval Office on Christmas morning in Washington, on Dec 25, 2018.
US President Donald Trump holds a video call with US military service members in the Oval Office on Christmas morning in Washington, on Dec 25, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States President Donald Trump vowed on Tuesday (Dec 25) that he would not reopen the government until he gets US$5 billion (S$6.9 billion) to fund his border wall, as the partial government shutdown dragged into a fourth day.

Mr Trump's demand for a physical barrier on the US-Mexico border - a pillar of his election platform - has been rejected by Democrats and some Republicans.

In retaliation, Mr Trump refused last week to sign a wider spending Bill, temporarily stripping funding from swathes of the government.

"I can't tell you when the government is going to be open," the Republican President told reporters at the White House after his annual Christmas teleconference with US troops.

"I can tell you it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they'd like to call it."

Mr Trump reaffirmed a claim made on Twitter on Monday that he had approved a contract for the construction of 185km of wall in Texas, although the White House has not offered any details on the project.

He said he would visit that stretch of the border "at the end of January for the start of construction".

 
 
 
 

"It's going to be built, hopefully rapidly," he said.

The President said he aimed to have a barrier stretching across 804km to 885km of the 3,200km border, and "to have it either renovated or brand new by election time".

"It's going to all work out," he said, adding that some furloughed federal workers also favour the construction of border wall that Mr Trump says will discourage illegal immigration.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said at the weekend that the President "must abandon the wall, plain and simple" to reopen the government.

Mr Trump ended the session by railing against the Democrats and former FBI director James Comey, whom he sacked in May 2017 in a move he later said stemmed from frustration over the federal investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign Russian interference in the 2016 US vote.

"It's a disgrace, what's happening in our country," Mr Trump said. "But other than that, I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas."