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Partial Government Shutdown: Trump, Lawmakers Fail to Break Impasse

The government has been partially shut down since December 22 after negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deadlock over the President's demand that the budget bill include more than $5 billion for construction of the wall

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Video: Frustrations Run High in Third Week of Shutdown. VOA

The US President and Republican as well as Democratic congressional leaders have failed to make tangible progress on how to end the partial government shutdown due to Donald Trump demands for billions of dollars for a border wall.

During the contentious meeting in the Situation Room on Wednesday, the 12 day of the shutdown, Trump made his case for a wall on the southwestern border and rejected Democrats’ proposals for reopening the government while the two sides ironed out their differences, the New York Times reported.

Trump warned before the meeting that he will keep the government partially shut down for as long as necessary, that is, apparently, till Democrats give in to his previous demands for financing his much-touted border wall with Mexico.

At the White House meeting, Democratic leaders asked Trump to immediately reopen the portions of the government that were currently shut down, leaving the discussion about border security — the reason why Trump ostensibly called the meeting in the first place — for later.

“I don’t think any particular progress was made today,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters after the meeting. “But we talked about all aspects of it and it was a civil discussion and we’re hopeful that somehow in the coming days and weeks we’ll be able to reach an agreement.”

The likely incoming Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, said upon leaving the meeting that the Democratic lawmakers’ aim was “to end the partial government shutdown tomorrow”.

“Tomorrow we will bring to the floor legislation that will open up government. It will be based on actions taken by the Republican Senate — led by Senator Mitch McConnell,” Pelosi said on Wednesday, making reference to a Senate bill that passed but did not include wall funding.

Pelosi said that approving the Democrats’ bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security through February 8 would give lawmakers and Trump 30 additional days to negotiate regarding allocating funds for US border security without the need to keep the government partially shut down and some 800,000 of the 2.1 million federal workers idled.

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“We asked the president to support the bills that we support to open up government,” added Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, noting that he had asked Trump to give “one good reason” for continuing the shutdown if lawmakers were discussing border security with the expectation of finding a mutually agreeable solution.

“He could not give a good answer,” Schumer said.

The government has been partially shut down since December 22 after negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers reached a deadlock over the President’s demand that the budget bill include more than $5 billion for construction of the wall. (IANS)

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“I Know You’re Trying, but Just Not Hard Enough”, Teen Activist to Lawmakers

"I know you're trying," she told Democratic senators at an invitation-only forum, but just not hard enough

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Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
Swedish youth climate activist Greta Thunber, 16, sits on the side among other youth climate activists at a news conference about the Green New Deal hosted by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. VOA

Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg offered a blunt message to Congress on Tuesday as she brought her campaign for urgent action on climate change to the U.S. Capitol. Teen.

“I know you’re trying,” she told Democratic senators at an invitation-only forum, “but just not hard enough. Sorry.”

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey thanked the 16-year-old activist for her advice and her activism, which has gained worldwide attention by inspiring a series of protests and school strikes, including one set for Friday.

Thunberg and other young activists bring “moral clarity” to the fight against global warming, Markey said.

Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) speaks at a news conference about the Green New Deal hosted by U.S. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) on the Northeast lawn in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Sept. 17, 2019. VOA

“We hear you,” he told her, vowing that lawmakers “will redouble our efforts to make sure that we inject this issue into the politics of this building and this country because time is running out.”

Markey and other lawmakers hailed Thunberg as a “superpower,” noting that her activism has drawn a passionate following of children essentially challenging their elders to take action.

“Save your praise,” Thunberg replied. “We don’t want it,” she added, especially if officials intend to talk about climate change “without doing anything about it.”

Thunberg was in Washington ahead of a global strike planned for Friday. Activists are calling for immediate action from the world’s governments to halt global warming, reduce fossil fuel consumption and avert environmental catastrophe.

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Instead of listening to her and other teenagers, lawmakers should invite scientists to the Capitol to listen to their expertise on ways to slow a rise in global temperatures, Thunberg said.

“This is not about us. This is not about youth activism,” she said. “We don’t want to be heard. We want the science to be heard.”

Despite Thunberg’s request, lawmakers bombarded her and other youth activists with praise, saying they had sparked a global movement that is already being felt in the 2020 presidential campaign and in the halls of Congress, where lawmakers are debating proposals such as the Green New Deal.

Markey is a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, which would shift the U.S. economy away from fossil fuels such as oil and coal and replace them with renewable sources such as wind and solar power.

Teen, Activist, Lawmakers
Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg offered a blunt message to Congress on Tuesday as she brought her campaign for urgent action on climate change to the U.S. Capitol. Pixabay

“We need your leadership,” he told Thunberg and other activists. “It’s creating a new X-factor” to boost efforts to fight climate change.

Last month, Thunberg crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a solar-powered boat, landing in New York City on Aug. 28. She’s in Washington for several days of rallies and lobbying efforts ahead of Friday’s global climate strike.

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Thunberg will testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday and address the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York next week. (VOA)