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Donald Trump Offers ‘Compromise’ to End Government Shutdown in US

The President said his proposals were "reasonable with lots of compromise" and would "build trust and goodwill"

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Trump offers 'compromise' to end government shutdown. VOA

US President Donald Trump has set out new plans on his Mexican wall project to try to end a partial government shutdown lasting more than four weeks.

One of his “compromises” was on so-called Dreamers — who entered the US illegally when young. He still wants $5.7 billion to fund the wall, the BBC reported on Saturday.

Democrats have refused to fund it and ahead of the speech had already rejected the expected concessions.

The shutdown, the longest in history, has affected 800,000 federal workers.

The President started by saying the US had a proud history of welcoming migrants, but that the system had been “badly broken for a very long time”.

He said he was “here to break the logjam and provide Congress with a path forward to end the government shutdown”.

He again spelled out his reasons for building the wall and stressed it was not a continuous structure, just one of steel barriers in high-priority areas. But the demand for $5.7 billion to fund it remains.

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Donald Trump. VOA

The two new ideas concerned the Dreamers and Temporary Protection Status (TPS) holders.

There are some 700,000 Dreamers, who were young when they entered the US with their parents illegally,

The Dreamers are currently protected from deportation under a programme that allows them to work but not get citizenship. It is a programme Trump has been trying to rescind.

But he said he would extend protection for Dreamers for another three years, allowing them continued access to work permits.

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He said he would also extend the visas for TPS holders for three years. More than 300,000 people from countries affected by war or disasters are allowed to work in the US under TPS, another system Trump has opposed.

There were other proposals, including $800 million in urgent humanitarian assistance, 2,750 more border agents and security officials and 75 new immigration judge teams. Certainly, the latter conforms largely with Democrat suggestions.

The President said his proposals were “reasonable with lots of compromise” and would “build trust and goodwill”. (IANS)

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US Senate Upholds Arms Sales to Bahrain, Qatar

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee

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FILE - Two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters participate in a media demonstration. VOA

The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales to Bahrain and Qatar, amid continued intensive congressional scrutiny of weapons sales to U.S. allies in the Middle East.

The Senate voted 43-56 against moving the Bahrain resolution out of the Foreign Relations Committee and bringing it to the floor for consideration by the full chamber. It also voted 42-57 against discharging the resolution pertaining to Qatar.

Sponsored by Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, the resolutions seek to block the Trump administration’s decisions, announced in May, to sell U.S. missile systems to Bahrain and attack helicopters to Qatar, each valued in the $3 billion range.

“The Middle East is a hot cauldron and continually threatening to boil over,” Paul said ahead of the votes. “I think it’s a mistake to funnel arms into these century-old conflicts.”

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The U.S. Senate on Thursday turned back resolutions aimed at disapproving multi-billion-dollar arms sales. Pixabay

Paul noted that weapons sent to the Middle East can wind up in the hands of America’s adversaries.

“In Iran to this day, they still have some U.S. weapons that are left over from the weapons the U.S. supplied the shah [U.S.-backed former Iranian leader overthrown in 1979]. In Iraq, some of the weapons we gave them to fight Iran were still there when we returned to fight Saddam Hussein. In Afghanistan, some of the weapons we gave to the Mujahideen to fight the Russians [in the 1980s] were still there when we returned to fight the Taliban [after the 9-11 attacks of 2001],” Paul said.

Last year, the Senate also defeated an effort by the Kentucky Republican to block the sale of rocket systems to Bahrain.

Bipartisan backing for such sales endured on Thursday, as even some senators who voted in favor of the discharge petitions as a procedural matter told VOA they do not support the underlying resolutions of disapproval.

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“I support the [arms] sales,” said the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Menendez of New Jersey. “On the process, I’m voting to preserve the [Senate’s] institutional rights…for at least a debate to be had over the sales, but I support the underlying sales.”

Other lawmakers spoke out against the discharge petitions as well as the resolutions.

“If they [Gulf states] don’t buy arms from us, they’re going to buy them from China or Russia,” Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told VOA. “Look, these countries are not democracies, we recognize that. But our interests are aligned, particularly in containing and combating Iran.”

 Bahrain has taken part in the Saudi-led coalition waging an air campaign over Yemen that has resulted in a staggering death toll in the country’s bloody civil war.
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FILE – Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez speaks with the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 5, 2019. VOA

Asked if the bloodshed in Yemen gave him pause about U.S. arms sales to the region, Cornyn said, “It does. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot we can do about it. It’s a civil war that the Iranians are trying to take advantage of, arming the Houthis to attack Saudi Arabia. I don’t think that should paralyze us, even though it’s a serious concern.”

The Senate could vote as early as next week on separate resolutions disapproving $8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

In the House of Representatives, four Democrats filed resolutions Wednesday that, if passed, would block the licenses required for the sales to move ahead.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump vetoed a bipartisan congressional resolution ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition targeting Yemen.

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Aside from the Yemeni conflict, lawmakers from both parties have repeatedly protested Saudi Arabia’s role in the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. (VOA)