No deal in sight on Day Five of government shutdown

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

While dysfunction in Washington can’t stop the Great Falls, the partial government shutdown does technically close most national park facilities. Still, a visitor from California got to see the main attraction.

“I think it’s unfortunate and I hope it gets resolved soon. I mean, we traveled quite a way and it’s good we get to walk around a little, but especially for all those employed by the government, we hoped that it’s resolved soon,” said Nancy Thuvanuti, who was visiting from Los Angeles.

It’s Day Five of the impasse, but likely the first full day people are feeling the effects, since the shutdown happened over the weekend and the Christmas holiday.

Both sides are digging in. Speaking to the troops stationed overseas on Tuesday, President Donald Trump said he won’t sign any budget deal if it did not include $5 billion for a wall on the southern border. So far the Democrats have offered just over a billion for what they’re calling border security.

“We have a little bit shutdown because we believe in walls, and we believe in borders, and we believe in barriers. You know, we have a special country. People have to come in through the legal process, not just walk in,” said Tump.

About 800,000 federal workers are either furloughed or working without a paycheck — those include so-called essential workers who work at the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration Enforcement and air traffic control. The IRS, Federal Housing Administration, and national parks are among the agencies where many workers are being asked to stay home.

In New Jersey, nearly 5,000 federal workers are impacted, according to the state’s Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver.

“It is an abominable act on the part of President Trump. He has wanted this. I think it is nothing more than political posturing,” Oliver said.

While a majority of the federal government has been funded, Americans may find some federal services unavailable. For example, mortgage applications that are secured by the Federal Housing Administration may not get processed, Social Security cards may not be sent out and the IRS may be delayed in processing tax returns.

After previous shutdowns, Congress approved back pay for federal workers, but many federal contractors may be out of luck.

Congress is scheduled to reconvene on Thursday, though it’s not entirely clear if they’ll have anything to discuss. It’s looking more and more likely that the partial government shutdown will stretch into the new year when the new Congress will have to deal with it.