US government shutdown enters second week as border wall impasse continues

The US Capitol is mirrored in the Reflecting Pool in Washington as a partial government shutdown heads into a second week Credit: J Scott Applewhite/AP

The shutdown of US government services has entered its second week, as a standoff between Donald Trump and the Democrats showed no sign of coming to an end.

The President and the opposition party in Congress have each blamed the other for the partial shutdown, but little substantive talking appears to be taking place, despite ongoing disruption to federal services and public employees asked to stay home or work without pay.

Mr Trump threatened again to close the border with Mexico completely to press Congress to cave in to his demands for money to pay for a wall.

Democrats vowed to pass legislation restoring the government as soon as they take control of the House on Thursday, but that will not accomplish anything unless Mr Trump and the Republican-controlled Senate go along with it.

The Environmental Protection Agency, which had the money to function a week longer than some other agencies, implemented its shutdown plan at midnight on Friday night.

Agency spokeswoman Molly Block said many of its 14,000 employees had been told to stay at home, while disaster-response teams and certain others considered 'essential' would stay on the job.

Also running short on money, the Smithsonian Institution said its museums and galleries in Washington would close midweek if the partial shutdown has not been resolved by then.

Mr Trump is demanding money for his signature border wall, which he vowed during the presidential campaign that he would make Mexico pay for.

He has failed to do that – and now Democratic leaders are adamant they will not authorise money for the project, calling it "wasteful and ineffective".

“We are far apart,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Friday.

Taking to Twitter with his latest threat, Mr Trump wrote: “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall & also change the ridiculous immigration laws that our Country is saddled with.”

He also threatened to cut off US aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, among a number of countries he said had not done enough to combat illegal immigration.

Donald Trump is demanding 5 million US dollars for the Mexican border wall Credit: AP

However, he has made similar threats in the past without following through - and it is actually Congress, not the president, which deals with aid money.

Mr Trump’s incoming chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, said Democrats were no longer negotiating with the administration over an earlier offer by the White House to accept less than the $5 billion (£3.9bn) the president had initially demanded for the wall.

Democrats said the White House had offered to accept $2.5bn (£1.9bn) for border security, but Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told vice-president Mike Pence that was not acceptable.

It had also not been guaranteed that Mr Trump would settle for that amount.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reacted cautiously to Mr Trump’s threat to close the border, calling it an “internal affair of the US government”.

He added: “We are always seeking a good relationship with the United States. We do not want to be rash.”