NEW YORK/WASHINGTON - More Americans blame President Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial US government shutdown, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday (Dec 27), as the closure stretched into its sixth day with no end in sight.
Forty-seven per cent of adults hold Trump responsible, while 33 per cent blame Democrats in Congress, according to the Dec 21-25 poll, 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 lawmakers from his own Republican Party, that taxpayers provide him with US$5 billion (S$6.9 billion) to help pay for a wall that he wants to build along the US-Mexico border. Its total estimated cost is US$23 billion.
Just 35 per cent of those surveyed in the opinion 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.
In a statement on Thursday, White House spokesman Sarah Sanders said, "The president has made clear that any Bill to fund the government must adequately fund border security." The statement made no mention of Trump's proposed wall.
Showing little sense of urgency, both chambers of Congress convened for mere minutes late on Thursday, but neither took any action to end the shutdown before adjourning until next week.
Democrats and Republicans were still very far apart on resolving the impasse, said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer's spokesman Justin Goodman in a statement.
Democratic Representative Jim McGovern tried to interrupt the brief Republican-run session in the House of Representatives by offering a measure to reopen shuttered government agencies and keep them running through Feb 8. But he was ignored and his microphone was soon cut off. The House session lasted less than three minutes.
"That was a legitimate request and I should have been recognised," McGovern told reporters later. "They wouldn't even recognise me. This is the way they've been running this place."
Inaction in Congress put the shutdown on track to continue into next week and possibly to drag well into January.
While its impact has been limited so far, partly due to holiday-season vacations underway for the 800,000 or so federal workers affected, 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 paychecks lapse.
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 US$5 billion, but its prospects in the Senate are seen as poor.
The next firm action on the issue is likely to come on Jan 3, when the Democrats take over majority control of the House. At that time, McGovern said, Democrats expect to offer a spending measure "plus probably disaster relief funding."
'PROUD TO SHUT DOWN'
Trump argues that his wall is needed to stem illegal immigration and drugs entering the country - a key plank in his 2016 presidential campaign.
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.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online in English across the United States. It gathered responses from 2,440 adults, including 946 Democrats and 846 Republicans. It has a credibility interval, a measure of the poll's precision, of two percentage points for the entire sample and four points for members of either political party.