Federal workforce starts to feel pinch of prolonged shutdown

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But President Donald Trump and congressional leaders aren’t even talking.

The partial government shutdown entered its fifth day Wednesday with no signs of a breakthrough and hundreds of thousands of federal workers about to feel the pinch of a protracted standoff.

President Donald Trump and Democratic congressional leaders aren’t currently negotiating directly, according to GOP and Democratic aides. Staff-level discussions are continuing, but there’s no indication that key players are ready to reach an accord.

“Whatever it takes. We need a wall,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday during a suprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq. “We need safety for our country. … We have terrorists coming in through the southern border.”

Despite the bombastic language from Trump — there is no evidence terrorists are entering the United States via the southern border with Mexico — congressional leaders from both parties fear that if a deal isn’t struck soon, the stalemate could easily drag on into mid-January. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is set to become speaker when Democrats take over the chamber on Jan. 3.

On the House side, leadership sources continue to argue that the onus is on the Senate to find a path forward. There were no calls or meetings between House GOP and Democratic leaders scheduled Wednesday.

The House will be in for a pro forma session on Thursday, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s office said there will be no votes held during what could be the last gasp of the 115th Congress, at least on that side of the Capitol. The House isn’t planning to return to Washington this week unless a deal is reached and approved by the upper chamber, these sources said.

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