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Republican senator close to President Donald Trump backed temporary re-opening of federal government

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Washington. Republican senator close to President Donald Trump on Sunday backed a temporary re-opening of the federal government, in the 23rd day of the longest shutdown ever, to allow for talks on a spending agreement that could satisfy Trump’s border security demands.

Democrats in Congress rejected Trump’s request that legislation to fund the government include $5.7 billion of taxpayer money for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico. They have refused further negotiations until the government is reopened after being partially shut down since Dec. 22.

Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he urged the president on Sunday to reopen the government for a limited period to try to get talks going again.

If no progress is made, he said, then Trump should declare a national emergency as a way to get money to build his wall, a plan not popular with some fellow Republicans.

“Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we are almost there, I would urge them to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug (to) see if we can get a deal,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said Trump told him, “Let’s make a deal, then open up the government.”

The record shutdown has furloughed 800,000 federal employees and cut government services across the United States. They missed their first paychecks on Friday, heightening concerns about mounting financial pressures on employees, including air traffic controllers and airport security officials who are working without pay.

Trump continued to blame Democrats for the impasse. “I’m in the White House, waiting. The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talking!” Trump said Sunday on Twitter.

Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responded on Twitter that, “Speaker Pelosi has been in DC all weekend working from the Capitol.”

In a meeting last month with Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer, Trump said he would be “proud” to shut down the government over wall funding. Recent polls show most Americans think the president is to blame.

Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, said she believes Trump and Republicans will lose the game of chicken as furloughed workers, airport travellers, tourists and others “experience the consequences of political dysfunction firsthand.”

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