Trump brags about contract for wall in Texas, blames Dems for partial shutdown

President Trump took to Twitter early Christmas Eve evening to brag about his latest border-wall accomplishment while blaming Democrats for the stalemate that has shut down part of the federal government.

He tweeted Monday: “I am in the Oval Office & just gave out a 115 mile long contract for another large section of the Wall in Texas. We are already building and renovating many miles of Wall, some complete. Democrats must end Shutdown and finish funding. Billions of Dollars, & lives, will be saved!”

It’s unclear whether Trump’s tweet means a new contract or an existing one.

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Little headway has been made on the wall, despite Trump’s tweet, echoing one of his original promises as president while on the campaign trail.

A March bill included money for 33 miles of barrier construction in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, but work there has yet to begin.

Customs and Border Protection announced in early November a $145 million construction project was awarded to build roughly six miles of border wall in Texas. The agency, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers, gave the multimillion-dollar job in the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande Valley Sector to SLSCO, which is expected to kick off in February.

Other work has merely replaced existing barriers that had been deemed “ineffective,” not added miles.

It looks like Christmas will be over and done with before the government will have a chance to get fully back to business. The incoming acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said the partial shutdown could drag into the New Year.

Monday and Tuesday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, respectively, are federal holidays, meaning the government is closed anyway. That means Wednesday is the first day the public could begin to feel the effects of lost government services, Mulvaney said.

Funding for numerous departments and agencies expired Saturday.

The disruption is affecting many operations and some 800,000 federal employees.

Both the House and Senate have adjourned until later in the week.

The president’s border-security meeting Monday afternoon included Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other department officials, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Senate negotiators continued talks behind the scenes with Democrats and Republicans. The House and Senate briefly gaveled into session on Christmas Eve before closing again with no further action.

The White House insisted Trump will reject any deal that does not include money for a wall or fence; Democrats held firm in their opposition to a wall or other physical barrier.

As Republicans prepare to relinquish their hold on government, with Democrats taking control of the House in January, the opportunities — and limits — of the GOP alliance with the Trump White House may be running their course.

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No sooner had Trump signaled he might be backing off his demand for $5 billion to build a border wall with Mexico — easing away from a partial government shutdown — than he took a U-turn after being scolded by conservative allies and pundits, who accused him of wavering on a campaign promise.

“Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” the Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement on Christmas Eve. “Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please right-wing radio and TV hosts.”

Trump told Republican leaders at the White House last week he wouldn’t sign a Senate-passed compromise bill, which would have kept border security money at $1.3 billion.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.