More Americans blame President Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial US government shutdown, a Reuters/Ipsos poll has found, as lawmakers returned to Washington with no quick end to the shutdown in sight.
Forty-seven per cent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 per cent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the December 21-25 poll released on Thursday and conducted mostly after the shutdown began. Seven per cent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans.
The shutdown was triggered by Trump’s demand, largely opposed by Democrats and some Republicans, that taxpayers provide him with $US5 billion ($A7.1 billion) to help pay for a wall he wants to build on the Mexican border. Its total estimated cost is $US23 billion.
Just 35 per cent of those surveyed in the Reuters/Ipsos poll said they backed including money for the wall in a congressional spending bill. Only 25 per cent said they supported Trump shutting down the government over the matter.
The shutdown, now in its sixth day, has a had limited impact so far, partly due to vacations for the 800,000 federal workers affected, though that could change soon.
Government agencies began notifying the public on Thursday about service disruptions.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said the shutdown means it cannot process new flood insurance policies, possibly disrupting home sales.
The Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the federal workforce, offered advice to government employees on staving off creditors if pay cheques lapse.
On Capitol Hill, the Senate and House of Representatives were set to reconvene late on Thursday, but no prompt action by them was expected. The lack of urgency fuelled speculation among analysts that the shutdown could drag on well into January.
The wall dispute coincided with the expiration of funding for about 20 per cent of the government. The remaining 80 per cent is fully funded and is unaffected by the shutdown.
The departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Agriculture, Commerce and other agencies, shut down ‘non-essential’ operations on Saturday after a tentative funding deal collapsed over Trump’s renewed insistence that wall funding be provided.
The House has approved a shutdown-ending spending measure that includes Trump’s demand for $US5 billion, but its prospects in the Senate were seen as poor.
Trump argues that his wall is needed to stem illegal immigration and drugs entering the country.
Earlier this month, he said he would be ‘proud to shut down the government’ over wall funding. On Twitter, since the shutdown started, he has tried to blame the Democrats.
In a tweet on Thursday, he framed the shutdown as a partisan issue, saying, ‘Do the Dems realise that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?’
The assertion, for which Trump provided no evidence, drew immediate criticism from Democrats.
‘Federal employees don’t go to work wearing red or blue jerseys,’ Democratic senator Mark Warner wrote on Twitter.
‘They’re public servants. And the president is treating them like poker chips at one of his failed casinos,’ Warner said.