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Signs Of The U.S. Government Shutdown Ending May Soon Be Emerging

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats.

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Americans Losing faith in government. VOA

The first tangible signs of movement may be emerging in the impasse that has shut down the government for weeks: President Donald Trump is promising a “major announcement” about the closure and the U.S.-Mexico border and Democrats are pledging more money for border security.

It was unclear whether the developments, following days of clashes between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., might represent serious steps toward resolving the partisan fight or instead may simply be political posturing as the partial shutdown reached a record 29th day. Hundreds of thousands of federal workers have gone without paychecks, enduring financial hardship. Many public services are unavailable to Americans during the closure.

The White House has declined to provide details about what the president would announce midafternoon Saturday. Trump was not expected to sign a national emergency declaration he has said was an option to circumvent Congress, according to two people familiar with the planning.

Instead, he was expected to propose the outlines of a deal that the administration believes could have the potential to pave the way for a shutdown end, according to one of the people. They were not authorized to publicly discuss details about the impending announcement and spoke on condition of anonymity.

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From left, President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. VOA

 

Democrats are now proposing hundreds of millions of dollars for new immigration judges and improvements to ports of entry from Mexico but nothing for the wall, a House aide said, as the party begins fleshing out its vision of improving border security.

Trump’s refusal to sign spending bills that lack $5.7 billion he wants to start constructing that wall, which Democrats oppose, has prompted the shutdown.

Whatever the White House proposed would be the first major overture by the president since Jan. 8, when he gave an Oval Office address trying to make the public case for the border wall. Democrats have said they will not negotiate until the government reopens, raising questions about how Trump might move the ball forward.

Democrats were proposing $563 million to hire 75 more immigration judges, who currently face large backlogs processing cases, and $524 million to improve ports of entry in Calexico, California, and San Luis, Arizona, the Democratic House aide said. The money is to be added to spending bills, largely negotiated between the House and Senate, that the House plans to vote on next week.

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Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-California, opposed to immigration raids targeting Central American families with children. VOA

In addition, Democrats were working toward adding money for more border security personnel and for sensors and other technology to a separate bill financing the Department of Homeland Security, but no funds for a wall or other physical barriers, the aide said.

It was possible Democrats would introduce that measure next week as the cornerstone of their border security alternative to Trump’s wall, the aide said. Earlier Friday, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., who leads the House Appropriations Committee’s homeland security subcommittee, said in an interview that some Democrats were asking leaders, “What is our plan?”

The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the details publicly.

In a video posted on his Twitter feed late Friday, Trump said both sides should “take the politics out of it” and “get to work” to “make a deal.” But he also repeated his warnings, saying: “We have to secure our southern border. If we don’t do that, we’re a very, very sad and foolish lot.”

Few would argue that a humanitarian crisis is unfolding at the U.S.-Mexico border, as the demand for entry by migrants and the Trump administration’s hard-line response overwhelm border resources. But critics say Trump has dramatically exaggerated the security risks and they argue that a wall would do little to solve existing problems.

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Migrants from Cuba, Venezuela and Central America queue at the Paso del Norte International Bridge in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico, to cross the border and request political asylum in the United States, Jan. 9, 2019. VOA

Trump’s Friday evening tweeted announcement came after Pelosi on Friday canceled her plans to travel by commercial plane to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying Trump had caused a security risk by talking about the trip. The White House said there was no such leak.

It was the latest turn in the high-stakes brinkmanship between Trump and Pelosi that has played out against the stalled negotiations.

Also Read: U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

Pelosi had suggested Trump postpone the annual State of the Union address, a Washington tradition and a platform for his border wall fight with Democrats. It is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 29.

Trump never responded directly. Instead, he abruptly canceled Pelosi’s military flight on Thursday, hours before she and a congressional delegation were to depart for Afghanistan on the previously undisclosed visit to U.S. troops. (VOA)

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Reasons For Bigger Houses In America

Here's why houses are getting bigger in America

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Americans prefer houses that have big and open spaces in them. Pixabay

BY DORA MEKOUAR

Americans have long been drawn to big, open spaces, so perhaps it’s no surprise that houses built in the United States are among the most expansive on the planet.

And they keep getting bigger.

The size of the average house has more than doubled since the 1950s. In 2019, the average size of a new single-family home was 240 square meters (2,584 square feet), according to the National Association of Homebuilders.

Deeply held feelings about one’s home may be rooted in America’s homesteading, pioneering past.

“The appeal of the house for Americans, going back into the 20th century, was that it signified autonomy. You know, every home is a castle,” says Louis Hyman, an economic historian and assistant professor at Cornell University. “So, it has these echoes of signifying independence and achievement.”

The federal government has pushed the idea that a nation of homeowners is ideal.

The 1934 establishment of the Federal Housing Administration revolutionized home ownership. By creating the financial mortgaging system that Americans still use today, the FHA made home buying more accessible for millions of people. At the time, most Americans rented. Homeownership stood at 40% in 1934. By 2001, the figure had risen to 68%.

In the 1940s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt equated homeownership with citizenship, saying that a “nation of homeowners, of people who own a real share in their own land, is unconquerable.”

Today, the homeownership rate in the United States stands at around 65%.

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The average newly built house is now twice as big as the average new home in 1945. Pixabay

The ability to invest in their homes has helped mask economic stagnation for many Americans. Although unemployment is near a record low, real wages — the number of goods and services that can be bought with money earned — haven’t budged in decades for U.S. workers.

“As Americans find that their wages are stagnating after the 1970s, they’re able to make money by investing in houses,” Hyman says. “The houses become a way for average Americans to get financial leverage, which can multiply their returns. There’s no other way for Americans to get access to financial leverage outside of houses. You can’t do it in the stock market if you’re just a normal person, and so this is a way to basically speculate in housing.”

For some Americans, owning a big home is a status symbol, physical proof that they’ve succeeded in life.

“This kind of classical example of the big suburban home has been a very powerful idea for many, many decades now,” says architectural historian William Richards. “People sometimes want specific rooms that have specific functions —a mud room; everybody gets their own bedroom; there’s no bunking up; a dedicated laundry room.”

And spacious houses are more financially attainable than they used to be.

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For many Americans, a large home is not only a status symbol, but also an investment. Pixabay

“In the design and construction, there are greater efficiencies now for all sorts of reasons so that it’s less expensive to build a bigger house now,” Richards says.

But do bigger houses, sometimes called McMansions, make people happier? Not according to a recent paper that Clément Bellet, now an adjunct professor at INSEAD, a European business school, wrote as a postdoctoral fellow.

“Despite a major upscaling of single-family houses since 1980, house satisfaction has remained steady in American suburbs,” Bellet writes in the report.

Also Read- Usage of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs to Curb Symptoms of Depression, still Controversial

People living in larger houses, however, do tend to be more satisfied with their property, according to Bellet, but that satisfaction plunges when even more massive houses are built nearby. (VOA)