Congress reconvenes — then adjourns — with no end to shutdown in sight

WASHINGTON — The partial government shutdown stretched into its sixth day Thursday, but there was little sense of urgency on Capitol Hill to resolve the impasse as Congress reconvened for a pro-forma session that ended as quickly as it began.

With no votes scheduled in either chamber and no sign of serious negotiations between the parties, the shutdown is now widely expected to continue into the New Year, when the incoming Democratic House majority will have a stronger hand to deal with President Donald Trump and his demand for a border wall with Mexico.

The still-Republican controlled House was gaveled into session for less than two minutes as Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., yelled out in a futile attempt to make a motion, before being quickly shut down in an otherwise empty House chamber.

The Senate likewise met for a brief pro-forma session before going into recess until New Year's Eve.

On Twitter, President Donald Trump railed against "Democrats OBSTRUCTION of the desperately needed Wall," a day after delivering a similar message during a surprise visit to U.S. troops in Iraq.

And his reelection campaign sought to get something out of the impasse, texting and emailing supporters to ask them to "Donate to be an Official Build the Wall Member."

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President Trump visits border wall prototypes amid protests
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President Trump visits border wall prototypes amid protests
US President Donald Trump is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold signs during a protest while standing in front of the current border fence and near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. The sign on the right reads "Trump, walls can be jumped over". REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
People attach a sign reading "Trump, stop the mass deportations" to the current border fence and near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, during a protest in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
US President Donald Trump's motorcade arrives at the border fence in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold signs reading "No to the wall" and "Trump, put your wall, but in your territory, not in ours", during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
US President Donald Trump is shown border wall prototypes with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (L) in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
A man holds a sign reading "Trump, put your wall, but in your territory, not in ours", during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
US President Donald Trump arrives to inspect border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold signs reading "No to the wall, Trump," and "Trump, we are not enemies of the USA" during a protest near the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, seen behind the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
US President Donald Trump speaks during an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. Donald Trump -- making his first trip to California as president -- warned there would be 'bedlam' without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the 'Golden State' -- the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold -- was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mexican Federal Police officers stand guard the Mexican side of the Mexico-US border in Tijuana, Baja California state, from where prototypes of the border wall, which US President Donald Trump will inspect on the outskirts of San Diego, in the US, are visible on March 13, 2018. Fresh off a cabinet reshuffle, President Donald Trump was headed for Democratic stronghold California on Tuesday to inspect prototypes of the controversial border wall with Mexico that was the centerpiece of his White House campaign. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
People hold signs reading "Trump, we will not pay for the wall" and "Trump, stop the mass deportations" near the border fence between Mexico and the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Journalists gather at a rooftop near the US -Mexico border as President Trump is expected to inspect the border wall prototypes built outskirts San Diego, in Tijuana, Baja California State, Mexico, on March 13, 2018. Fresh off a cabinet reshuffle, President Donald Trump was headed for Democratic stronghold California on Tuesday to inspect prototypes of the controversial border wall with Mexico that was the centerpiece of his White House campaign. / AFP PHOTO / GUILLERMO ARIAS (Photo credit should read GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. police officers use a ladder to climb up a truck parked in front of the prototypes of U.S. President Donald Trump's border wall, on the U.S. side of the current border fence, in Tijuana, Mexico March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jorge Duenes
An agent faces Mexico while standing by the vehicle of U.S. President Donald Trump at the border near San Diego, California, where Trump reviewed wall prototypes designed to serve as a protective barrier against illegal immigrants, drugs and smuggled weapons, March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Border Patrol Agent sits on horseback near U.S. President Donald Trump's motorcade during a tour of U.S.-Mexico border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego, California. U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
TIJUANA, MEXICO - MARCH 13:Anti-Trump protestors demonstrate on the Mexico side of the border before the arrival of the U.S. President to inspect the prototypes of the proposed border wall on March 13, 2018 in Tijuana, Mexico. (Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
The motorcade carrying US President Donald Trump drives past a US-Mexico border fence as Trump head for an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. Donald Trump -- making his first trip to California as president -- warned there would be 'bedlam' without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the 'Golden State' -- the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold -- was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Mounted Border Patrol agents are seen as US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. Donald Trump -- making his first trip to California as president -- warned there would be 'bedlam' without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the 'Golden State' -- the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold -- was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump inspects border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. Donald Trump -- making his first trip to California as president -- warned there would be 'bedlam' without the controversial wall he wants to build on the border with Mexico, as he inspected several prototype barriers. The trip to the 'Golden State' -- the most populous in the country and a Democratic stronghold -- was largely upstaged by his own announcement that he had sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump holds up a poster of before and after photos of a segment of the border wall prototypes with Chief Patrol Agent Rodney S. Scott (R) in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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"The Administration understands this crisis and made a reasonable, common-sense solution to Democrats five days ago - we've not received a single response," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. "The only rational conclusion is that the Democrat party is openly choosing to keep our government closed to protect illegal immigrants rather than the American people. The President does not want the government to remain shut down, but he will not sign a proposal that does not first prioritize our county's safety and security."

Democrats have shown no interest in conceding to Trump's insistence that any new government funding bill include $5 billion for his border wall.

Instead, they seem content to wait until Jan. 3, when their new majority in the House will take hold and they can pass a more favorable funding bill or reopen negotiations with a stronger hand — although any House measure would still need to be passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump.

"Democrats have offered Republicans three options to re-open government that all include funding for strong, sensible, and effective border security - but not the President's immoral, ineffective and expensive wall," Drew Hammill, spokesperson for Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who is expected to be elected Speaker, said in a statement. "With the House Majority, Democrats will act swiftly to end the Trump Shutdown, and will fight for a strategic, robust national security policy, including strong and smart border security, and strong support for our servicemembers and veterans."

Pelosi herself has pointed to the expected shift in the negotiating dynamic as Democrats prepare to assume the House majority. "He's already backed off of the cement [wall] — now he's down to, I think, a beaded curtain or something," she said in an interview this week with USA Today.

The outgoing Republican majority is laying relatively low as well, with many lawmakers remaining back home for the Christmas break and few returning to Washington Thursday.

Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., whose job it is to make sure members show up for votes, advised lawmakers Thursday that "no votes are expected in the House this week," kicking the ball back into the Senate's court. He said the House would try to give 24-hours notice before any such action.

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Rep. Steve Scalise
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Rep. Steve Scalise
U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise speaks to reporters about the appointment of a Special Counsel in the Russia investigations on his way to a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Zach Gibson
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks to reporters at the U.S. Capitol, hours before an expected vote to repeal Obamacare in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) leaves the office of Speaker Paul Ryan ahead of a crucial vote on the Affordable Care Act at the Capitol Building in Washington, DC, U.S. March 23, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, right, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, smile during a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, and House and Senate leadership in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 6, 2017. Trump is bringing lawmakers to the White House in hopes of kick-starting his legislative agenda while Washington focuses on the latest twists and turns in the Russia investigation. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Pool via Bloomberg
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks about the American Health Care Act, the Republican replacement to Obamacare, at the Republican National Committee in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 17: House Majority Whip. Steve Scalise (R-LA) speaks to the media on May 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. Today the Justice Department announced that former FBI director Robert Mueller will be a special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, Majority Whip and (R-La. 1st District),, speaks at President Trump's press conference with members of the GOP, on the passage of legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House, On Thursday, May 4, 2017. (Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 4: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., leads a group of Republican members of Congress to the House floor for the votes on repeal and replace of Obamacare on Thursday, May 4, 2017. The members met with White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus in Scalise's office before the vote. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) speaks with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) as they arrive for a conference meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April 26, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) (L-R), U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) speak to reporters during a joint news conference following a House Republican party conference meeting in Washington, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
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At the tail end of a holiday week, the Capitol complex's marble halls were deserted, its subways ran empty, and by noon, a stack of newspapers remained uncollected outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's door.

Government shutdowns, once seen as a major crises, have become more common, with three this year alone — with the impact of the current stoppage limited by the fact that involves just nine government departments, with some critical agencies such as the Department of Defense fully funded by a previous bill.

Experience with past shutdowns has lessened the effect on the public as well, with workarounds already established, such as having states foot the bill for National Park staffing while the government is not fully operating.

The biggest impact may be on government employees, hundreds of thousands of whom have either been furloughed or forced to work without pay, along with federal contractors who perform services like cleaning the Smithsonian museums.

But the plight of bureaucrats, who tend to be far from the most politically sympathetic group of Americans, does not appear to be much motivation for politicians to resolve the conflict. "Do the Dems realize that most of the people not getting paid are Democrats?" the president tweeted Thursday morning, without offering evidence to support his claim.

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