Democrats backed by new Speaker Nancy Pelosi pass legislation that would end a 13-day partial government shutdown, ignoring President Trump's demand for $5 billion for a border wall with Mexico.

US President Trump's demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border triggered the shutdown affecting about a quarter of the federal government and 800,000 federal workers. (December 26, 2018)
US President Trump's demand for $5 billion in funding for a wall along the US-Mexico border triggered the shutdown affecting about a quarter of the federal government and 800,000 federal workers. (December 26, 2018) (AP)

Democrats wasted no time flexing their new power in the US House of Representatives on Thursday by approving legislation backed by new Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would end a 13-day partial government shutdown, ignoring President Donald Trump's demand for $5 billion for a border wall.

The White House on Thursday issued a veto threat against both parts of the Democratic legislation. But that did not deter House Democrats.

Thursday marked the first day of divided government in Washington since Trump took office in January 2017, as Democrats took control in the House from his fellow Republicans, who remain in charge of the Senate.

The 2019-2020 Congress convened with roughly a quarter of the federal government closed, affecting 800,000 employees, in a shutdown triggered by Trump's demand last month for the money for a US-Mexican border wall – opposed by Democrats – as part of any legislation funding government agencies.

The House earlier on Thursday had formally picked Pelosi, a veteran Democratic lawmaker and liberal from San Francisco, as its speaker, beginning her second stint in one of Washington's most powerful jobs. 

She is the only woman ever to serve as speaker and will preside over the most diverse US House in history, including a record number of women and Latinos.

Pelosi's firm stand

The new House speaker Pelosi stood firm shortly before the vote saying no funding for a border wall would be made available.

The resolution was passed by 239 votes to 192.

Democrats also approved a separate measure to fund the departments of Agriculture, Interior, Housing and Urban Development and others closed by the partial shutdown.

This bill, which will provide money through the end of the fiscal year on 30 September, was approved, 241-190.

Trump's endorsement

The Democratic legislation to re-open the government without funding the wall is going nowhere in the Senate, where Republicans want Trump's endorsement before voting on a funding package.

Asked if she would give Trump $1 for a wall to reopen the government, Pelosi said: "One dollar? Yeah, one dollar. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It's not who we are as a nation."

Polls show a majority of Americans oppose the border wall, although Republicans strongly support it.

White House and Department of Homeland Security officials have spent recent days trying to make a public and private case that the situation at the border has reached a "crisis" situation that demands more money than Democrats have offered.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies