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What’s next in the showdown over a government shutdown?

In a reversal from its previous demands, the White House is signaling openness to a funding bill that would avoid a government shutdown, even if it doesn't include $5 billion for a border wall. Days before a partial shutdown would take effect, Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor and Politico’s Jake Sherman about the ongoing negotiations and why congressional Democrats are feeling “heartened.”

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Funding for 25 percent of the U.S. government is set to expire on Friday. More than 800,000 federal workers, from departments including Homeland Security, Transportation and Justice, could be furloughed or have to work without pay.

    Negotiations between the White House and Congress are held up by $5 billion President Trump wants to fund a border wall.

    To explain the disagreement and chance for a partial shutdown, "NewsHour"'s White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor, is here. And Jake Sherman of Politico is following the developments on Capitol Hill.

    And hello to both of you.

    So, Yamiche, to you first.

    Tell us, first, where does the president stand exactly on the possibility of a deal to prevent a shutdown to fund the government?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    The president is indicating that he's willing to give up on his initial demand to have $5 billion for the border wall. He wants to start his vacation in Florida, it seems, on Friday, and not be dealing with a government shutdown.

    Remember, last week, when he had the Democratic leaders in the White House — that would be Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi — he said, I would be proud to shut down the government over border security and I would be proud to take credit for that.

    Now the White House is completely changing their tune. The president today said it's too early to tell. We're going to see where things stand.

    Sarah Sanders, who is, of course, the White House press secretary, she said that they're willing to get the money from somewhere else.

    There isn't a clear idea of what the deal is going to be. But the White House is indicating that they're willing to make a deal and not stand firm on that $5 million — that $5 billion mark.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So given that, Jake Sherman, what does it look like from the perspective of Capitol Hill, Democrats and Republicans?

  • Jake Sherman:

    So, I mean, Democrats are heartened, right, because they're not going to — there's not going to be a border wall. It's very clear that the president, as Yamiche said, is not going to get $5 billion, and has — he has stepped away from this commitment, which, by the way, he made many years ago.

    But Republicans who have been following the president for the last three or four years and campaigning on what he has campaigned on are saying, wait a minute, you said you were going to build a border wall with Mexico. You first said Mexico was going to pay for it. And then you said you would do it through the appropriations process, through the congressional spending process.

    And here we are in the last gasp of Republican Washington, and the president has given up on that promise. So I think there's a lot of consternation among Republicans certainly, and Trump Republicans specifically.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And so, Yamiche, where does the president, the people around him, where do they believe they're going to get this money from?

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    That's a great question, Judy. We have no idea.

    It's unclear where the president's going to get this money from. Sarah Sanders, in what I call rare White House press briefings, since they're very, very rare these days, she said that they're going to try to not have taxpayer money be spent on this wall.

    That's, of course, misleading, because taxpayer money is going to be what they're looking for. Sarah Sanders said that the president has requested that federal agencies look at their budgets to see if they can somehow cobble together this $5 billion.

    She also at some point was floating around this idea that there might be a $26 billion legislation out there to pay for border security. That is not clear. Now, there's no indication that that legislation is anywhere near something that the Congress or the president can pass.

    So what we have right now is the president saying, we want to get the money, we hope to find the money, but we're not exactly sure where we're going to get it from.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And so, Jake, the conversation we're hearing is that it may be a short-term deal that would push this over into January. What does that mean? You have a new Congress, certainly more Democrats in the House, two more Republicans in the Senate.

    But the House is where the real difference is. What does it look like could happen then?

  • Jake Sherman:

    It looks like January or February is going to be the deadline, and especially because we're sitting here just a couple days away from this deadline coming up.

    And it's just a complete and 100 percent fold from the president. The Democratic House is not — especially the new Democrats who are coming in energized to resist and oppose the president, they're not going to give him a border wall in any way. Now, they might give him border security, which is different than a physical barrier, which is what the president promised.

    But this should be read quite clearly by everybody as the president saying that he's pretty much done with his quest for the border wall. And that's what it's going to be when Democrats take over in just a few short weeks.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And very quickly, Yamiche, in a few seconds, the president still clings, talks about the border wall, even though the funding doesn't seem to be there.

  • Yamiche Alcindor:

    He talks about it because it's a central part of his campaign, a central part of his presidency.

    He got to be president because he had crowds saying, we want the wall. And now he's really wedded to this idea of criminalizing immigrants and saying that they're going to bring diseases here. So he wants to talk about this wall.

    But, as Jake said, there's really no evidence that he's going to get the money for it.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Yamiche Alcindor, we keep on watching this, and Jake Sherman. Thank you both.

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