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GOP and Democrats trade blame for shutdown, no deal in sight

WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown will almost certainly be handed off to a divided government to solve in the new year, as President Donald Trump sought to raise the stakes Friday and both parties traded blame in the weeklong impasse.

Agreement eludes Washington in the waning days of the Republican monopoly on power, and that sets up the first big confrontation between Trump and newly empowered Democrats. Trump is sticking with his demand for money to build a wall along the southern border, and Democrats, who take control of the House on Jan. 3, are refusing to give him what he wants.

Trump worked to escalate the showdown Friday, reissuing threats to close the U.S.-Mexico border to pressure Congress to fund the wall and to shut off aid to three Central American countries from which many migrants have fled.

“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 wrote in one of a series of tweets.

The president also signaled he was in no rush to seek a resolution, welcoming the fight as he heads toward his own bid for re-election in 2020. He tweeted Thursday evening that Democrats may be able to block him now, “but we have the issue, Border Security. 2020!”

Incoming acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said Trump canceled his plans to travel to Florida to celebrate New Year’s at his private Mar-a-Lago club.

The shutdown is forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors to stay home or work without pay, and many are experiencing mounting stress from the impasse. It also is beginning to pinch citizens who count on public services. Gates are closed at some national parks, new farm loans will be put on hold beginning next week, and in New York, the chief judge of Manhattan federal courts suspended work on civil cases involving U.S. government lawyers, including several civil lawsuits in which Trump himself is a defendant.

The Smithsonian Institution also announced that museums and galleries popular with visitors and locals in the nation’s capital will close starting midweek if the partial shutdown drags on.

With another long holiday weekend coming and almost all lawmakers away from the Capitol there is little expectation of a quick fix.

“We are far apart,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told CBS on Friday, claiming of Democrats, “They’ve left the table all together.”

Mulvaney said Democrats are no longer negotiating with the administration over an earlier offer to accept less than the $5 billion Trump wants for the wall. Democrats said the White House offered $2.5 billion for border security, but that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer told Vice President Mike Pence it wasn’t acceptable.

“There’s not a single Democrat talking to the president of the United States about this deal,” Mulvaney said Friday

Speaking on Fox News and later to reporters, he tried to drive a wedge between Democrats, pinning the blame on House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“My gut was that (Schumer) was really interested in doing a deal and coming to some sort of compromise. But the more we’re hearing this week is that it’s Nancy Pelosi who’s preventing that from happening,” he said, alleging that if Pelosi “cuts a deal with the president of any sort before her election on January 3rd she’s at risk of losing her speakership, so we’re in this for the long haul.”

Pelosi has all but locked up the support she needs to win the gavel on Jan. 3 and there is also no sign of daylight between her and Schumer in the negotiations over government funding.

Mulvaney added of the shutdown: “We do expect this to go on for a while.”

Democrats brushed off the White House’s attempt to cast blame.

“For the White House to try and blame anyone but the president for this shutdown doesn’t pass the laugh test,” said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for Schumer.

Pelosi vowed to pass legislation to reopen the nine shuttered departments and dozens of agencies now hit by the partial shutdown as soon as she takes the gavel, which is expected when the new Congress convenes.

Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill added that Democrats “are united against the President’s immoral, ineffective and expensive wall” and said Democrats won’t seriously consider any White House offer unless Trump backs it publicly because he “has changed his position so many times.”

“While we await the President’s public proposal, Democrats have made it clear that, under a House Democratic Majority, we will vote swiftly to re-open government on Day One,” Hammill said in a statement.

But even that may be difficult without a compromise because the Senate will remain in Republican hands and Trump’s signature will be needed to turn any bill into law.

Trump said during his campaign that Mexico would pay for his promised wall, but Mexico refuses to do so. It was unclear how Trump’s threat to close the border would affect his efforts to ratify an amended North American free trade pact.


Trinity Johnson reaches out to put a ball down a slinky while on a horse named Foss Wednesday, Nov. 14, at Rising Stars Therapeutic Riding Center southwest of Twin Falls. Riding has built up Trinity's physical strength and coordination and has helped her to focus and follow two-step directions, her mother said. At first, Trinity needed 'sidewalkers' to support her in the saddle, but now she rides solo.


Camille Flournoy tosses rose petals to the wind as part of a vigil for three-year-old Ruya Kadir Wednesday, July 11, at the Visitor Center in Twin Falls. Kadir was stabbed to death at her third birthday party in Boise.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: A community dance will feature music by the Shadows Band from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Snake River Elks Lodge, 412 E. 200 S., Jerome. Admission is $5.


Suad Saeed, center, sits in the CSI Refugee Center van Tuesday, July 31, as she waits to go home after English class at the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Center in Twin Falls. The center provides transportation for all newly arriving refugees, but because of the cost the service doesn't continue forever. After a month of orientation around the town, refugees have to rely on friends and volunteers to take them anywhere besides medical appointments and employment, which is covered by the van. 'In Twin Falls, you have to have a car,' said Lea Raly, a 19-year-old refugee who got a job working for a local manufacturing company.

itsme / Kelsey Brunner, Associated Press 

Community members hold a candlelight vigil for Kelsey Berreth under the gazebo of Memorial Park in Woodland Park, Colo., on Dec. 13.

Eagle man given probation in teen hunt beating case

BURLEY — One of three hunters accused of beating a teen and taking his rifle away was sentenced Dec. 27 to four years of probation by a Cassia County judge.

Judge Michael Tribe ordered the sentence for Jeff Owen Smith, which includes court costs, fees and a $500 fine along with a one-year hunting license suspension, according to court documents. He was found guilty by a jury in July.

The judge also ordered the judgement be withheld, which means the charge may be removed from Smith’s record if he successfully completes probation.


Smith was charged in September 2016 along with Rodger V. Powell, of Sandy, Utah, who was also found guilty by a jury in July of felony aggravated battery, injury to a child and interference with a lawful hunt. He has asked the court for another trial based on new evidence, a request that is still pending before the court.


A third man, Grant Edward Horne, of Bellevue, was charged with grand theft, burglary and interference with a hunt. Charges of aggravated battery and injury to a child were later dismissed by the Cassia County prosecutor. A jury trial is still pending in the case and a status hearing is set 8:45 a.m., Jan. 22, 2019 in Cassia County District Court.

According to court documents, the boy, who was 16 years old at the time, was treated at the hospital for head, neck and abdomen injuries after he said he was hunting deer in the Sublett area when the three men approached him and punched and kicked him.


Teller County Sheriff's Office via AP 

Patrick Frazee