President Donald Trump has signed an executive order granting federal employees time off on Christmas Eve.
Following a tradition practised by former presidents, Mr Trump’s order decrees that “all executive departments and agencies of the federal government shall be closed” on 24 December.
The order was signed amid concerns about a looming partial government shutdown Mr Trump threatened to push through over a funding battle for his proposed border wall with Mexico. The White House and Congress are quarreling over a government funding bill that must be approved by Friday to avoid a shutdown.
On Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president has backed off his initial demand to lawmakers for $5 billion to build the wall.
The administration hinted that $1.6 billion—a figure Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed along with a $1 billion “slush fund,” and one that top Democrats reject—would be sufficient enough to build the wall.
To receive additional funding to meet the $5 billion figure, Ms Sanders said the White House is looking into other federal agencies to cough up the money.
“At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border," Ms Sanders said.
Although Christmas is a federal holiday, presidents in the past have been inconsistent when gifting Christmas Eve off when it occurs in the middle of the week.
In 2015, former President Barack Obama let federal employees go home early for Christmas Eve, and in 2014, he gave them a day off on 26 December since it fell on a Friday. Former president George W. Bush regularly granted time off for Christmas Eve.
Last year, Mr Trump did not grant Christmas Eve off since it fell on a Sunday.
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