Washington: White House budget director Mick Mulvaney on Sunday said the partial government shutdown gridlocking Washington could extend into the new year and the next Congress.
"It's very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th and into the new Congress," Mulvaney told Fox News of the impasse over funding for President Donald Trump's wall on the US-Mexico border.
Mulvaney put the onus on Democrats, saying the White House is now offering to open the government for less than the $5 billion in funding for a border wall President Donald Trump had previously demanded.
Democrats have refused any new money for a wall along the US-Mexico border, which Trump while campaigning promised would be paid for by Mexico.
The impasse created a stalemate that led large portions of the government to shut down at the start of Saturday.
But Mulvaney also acknowledged that Trump's approach to the presidency played a role in shuttering federal agencies and sending workers home on furlough just before Christmas.
"This is what Washington looks like when you have a president who refuses to sort of go along to get along," Mulvaney said.
The House and Senate have been sent home until Thursday, after several hours of fitful negotiations at the Capitol on Saturday yielded no result. But Mulvaney indicated little optimism that there would be any deal to reopen the government before the new Congress convenes on January 3.
The likely incoming House speaker, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Democrat-California, has already said she intends to pass a spending bill to reopen the government as soon as she takes control of the House majority. It would provide $1.3 billion for border security, a level Democrats have endorsed and that would contain no new funds for building a wall.
Mulvaney said Sunday that the White House made an offer on Saturday between $1.3 billion and $5 billion, and "the ball is in their court."
Democrats have firmly opposed any new money for Trump's border wall. Pelosi says the wall is "immoral."
Mulvaney played down the impacts of a shutdown, noting that the federal government is effectively closed until Wednesday anyway because of the Christmas holiday. He said that paychecks will go out on Dec. 28, the next federal pay period. "I want everybody to understand no one is working without getting paid," Mulvaney said.
The next pay period affected is January 11.
Some 400,000 federal workers are expected to be furloughed under the shutdown that affects about 25 percent of the government that Congress funds - including the Homeland Security Department, and the Justice, Interior, Agriculture and Housing departments, among others.
The rest of the government - including the Pentagon - have already been funded through September under spending bills Congress passed earlier in the year and the president signed.
The government also went into brief partial shutdowns in January and February, making this the third partial government shutdown of 2018.
When ABC's Jonathan Karl reminded Mulvaney of Trump's campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall, Mulvaney said the technical process cannot work so easily. He tried to argue that the renegotiated trade deal among the United States, Mexico and Canada could generate revenues to the U.S. Treasury.
"You could make an argument Mexico is paying for it in that fashion," Mulvaney said, without offering specifics. He added, "We really think we're in a good place in terms of getting the wall built and also getting Mexico to participate in our border security."
There is no mechanism for direct payments from Mexico's government to the U.S. government for a wall in the trade agreement.