Washington, Dec 25 (IANS) Democratic congressional leaders on Monday said that US President Donald Trump is “plunging the country into chaos” with his recent attacks on the Federal Reserve and engineering a partial government shutdown, which has left 25 per cent of US government agencies without operating funds.
The Democratic declaration comes after Wall Street closed on Monday with heavy losses and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the main market benchmark, fell 2.91 per cent — or more than 653 points — in its worst Christmas Eve performance in history, Efe reported.
In a joint statement, Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi warned that: “It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos. The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve — after he just fired the Secretary of Defence,” referring to Gen. James Mattis, who resigned last week only to be booted by Trump as of January 1, two months before his stated departure date.
Trump on Monday tweeted that “the only problem” with the US economy is the Fed because that entity doesn’t “have a feel for the Market.”
According to local media reports, the president has been considering whether to fire Fed Chairman Jerome Powell after he raised US interest rates last week, but Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied that Trump is going to jettison Powell.
The president, moreover, is being harshly questioned over his dismissal of Mattis, who submitted his resignation letter late last week — to be effective February 28 — after Trump abruptly announced that he was withdrawing all US troops from Syria.
Due to the government shutdown, some 25 per cent of US government activities have been paralyzed since Friday at midnight because Congress has not been able to approve a budget and funding for those departments has expired.
The shutdown came about because Trump has demanded that Congress include $5 billion to build portions of his much-touted wall along the Mexican border, something that Democratic lawmakers have refused to agree to, although some $1.3 billion has been allocated by Congress for other types of enhanced border security.
Democratic and Republican lawmakers, along with Trump, are negotiating to try and reopen the government, but Schumer and Pelosi said Monday that reaching an agreement is difficult because the White House does not have a unified position.
The Democratic leaders said that different people in the White House are saying different things about what the president could or could not accept in exchange for ending the shutdown he originally he would be “proud” to bring about, and thus the administration evidently does not have a common or unified stance on the matter.
Trump met on Monday at the White House with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to discuss border security, but it is not yet known what the results of that meeting were.
The Senate will meet again on Thursday to try and reach a budget agreement so that the government can be fully reopened, but the White House says that the shutdown may continue into January.
Trump wants to secure additional funding for his border wall from the Republican-controlled Senate — where the GOP is seriously divided — before the Democrats take over the House on January 20, after which they are expected to cancel any budgetary plans that include the wall.