The standoff between Donald Trump and America’s Democratic party has led to the longest government shutdown in US history — it’s now on day 24 with no end in sight.
On Monday Mr Trump showed no sign of capitulating, rejecting a suggestion by Republican senator Lindsay Graham that would allow federal employees to get paid.
Senator Graham encouraged Mr Trump to reopen the government and continue negotiating with Democrats over the wall Mr Trump wants to build on the US-Mexico border.
If there’s no deal at the end of that time, Mr Graham says Mr Trump would be free to take the more dramatic step of declaring a national emergency to build it.
But the president quickly shut it down.
“That was a suggestion that Lindsey made, but I did reject it,” Mr Trump told reporters outside the White House on Monday morning (local time).
“I’m not interested. I want to get it solved. I don’t want to just delay it. I want to get it solved.”
Targeting Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Mr Trump tweeted that the shutdown “has become their, and the Democrats, fault!” But Mr Trump weeks ago asserted that he would “own” the shutdown and polls show that people mostly think that he is to blame.
Also on Twitter on Mionday morning, Mr Trump seemed confused about where he was due to speak that day, tweeting he was “getting ready to address the Farm Convention today in Nashville, Tennessee” when he was actually headed for New Orleans, 856 kilometres away.
The tweet was swiftly deleted.
According to a poll by CNN, 55 per cent say he is more responsible for the shutdown than the Democrats, while 32 per cent say the blame rests mostly with the Democrats.
Also in comments to the press leaving the White House, Mr Trump denied he has ever worked for Russia and slammed the FBI after a New York Times report revealed top officials from the department ordered the probe into Mr Trump’s links with Russia.
“I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody,” he said.
“Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace that you even asked that question, because it’s a whole big fat hoax.”
Of the former top FBI officials, including James Comey, he called them “scoundrels” and added “I guess you could say they’re dirty cops.”
Mr Trump has kept Washington on edge over whether he would resort to declaring a national state of emergency over the border wall, which is the reason for the government shutdown.
Citing what he says is a “crisis” of drug smuggling and the trafficking of women and children at the border, Mr Trump initially sounded as though such a move was imminent, but now says he prefers a legislative solution.
Democrats oppose an emergency declaration but may be powerless to block it.
Some Republicans are wary, too, fearing how a future Democratic president might use that authority.
Such a move, should Mr Trump ultimately go that route, would almost certainly be challenged in the courts.