After canceling a Christmas trip amid the government shutdown, First Lady Melania Trump left Washington, D.C., to spend New Year's Eve at Mar-a-Lago

By Adam Carlson
January 02, 2019 04:19 PM
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AMBASSADOR PAOLO ZAMPOLLI/Instagram

After canceling a planned Christmas trip amid the ongoing government shutdown to stay at the White House with her husband, First Lady Melania Trump left Washington, D.C., to enjoy New Year’s Eve at the family’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.

Mrs. Trump posed for photos with various other revelers, including Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt and Paolo Zampolli, the United Nations ambassador of the Commonwealth of Dominica.

The first lady made the trip to Palm Beach without President Donald Trump, who remained in D.C. as the government shutdown approaches its third week. She previously canceled her Christmas plans at Mar-a-Lago to return to the White House, where she and the president made a surprise overnight trip to visit troops in Iraq the day after Christmas.

The family had originally planned a weeks-long holiday trip, according to Politico.

“Due to the shutdown, President Trump will remain in Washington, D.C. and the First Lady will return from Florida so they can spend Christmas together,” Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said last week.

A spokeswoman for Mrs. Trump tells PEOPLE, “It was always her plan to spend the winter holiday at Mar-a-Lago with” son Barron.

“New Year’s Eve was spent with family and friends,” including Mrs. Trump’s parents, the spokeswoman says.

Tickets at the club’s party reportedly went for up to $1,000 — an increase from past gatherings and another example of the rising cost of attendance there, which critics have described as an unscrupulous blending of Trump’s political influence and personal profit.

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The president, who instigated the shutdown over his insistence on building a southern border wall, said he would forego his usual festivities and has made a public show of his continued presence in D.C., urging Congressional Democrats to return from their holidays as he had and “make a deal on desperately needed Border Security.”

“Democrats, come back from vacation now and give us the votes necessary,” Trump tweeted on New Year’s Eve.

But Democrats, swept to power in the midterm elections, have said they will refuse giving Trump the money he needs for a wall but would reauthorize the current funding for homeland security, according to the New York Times.

They plan to vote on two spending bills on Thursday, when the 2019 Congress first convenes, the Times reports. The second bill would include homeland security while the first would include departments such as the IRS.

The shutdown affects approximately 800,000 workers, according to NPR.

“If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans refuse to support the first bill, then they are complicit with President Trump in continuing the Trump shutdown and in holding the health and safety of the American people and workers’ paychecks hostage over the wall,” Nancy Pelosi, the presumptive next speaker of the house, said in a joint statement with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Times reports.