Thursday January 17, 2019
Home Lead Story Trump’s...

Trump’s Allies in The Senate Urge Him To Re-open The Government

Congress says all affected federal workers will get back pay as soon as the shutdown is over, but that brings little assurance to those who have immediate expenses

0
//
USA, Government
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, walks to a meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

One of President Donald Trump’s closest allies in the U.S. Senate is urging him to at least temporarily reopen the shuttered federal government and negotiate with Democrats on a border wall.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday he would still support a presidential emergency declaration after giving talks another chance.

“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off,” Graham said.

Graham echoed Trump by blaming the three-week long government shutdown on Democrats – specifically House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who joked she would give Trump $1 for the border wall.

USA, Government
Vice President Mike Pence, center, looks on as House Minority Leader, now Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and President Donald Trump argue during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington. VOA

“How do you negotiate with the speaker of the house when she tells you even if you open up the government, we are not going to give you but $1 for the wall? So until that changes, there’s not much left except the national emergency approach,” Graham said on Fox.

Declaring a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexican border would allow Trump to spend the $5 billion he wants for a wall without congressional approval – a move Democrats would be expected to immediately challenge in court.

Democrats see waste of money

Most Democrats say they agree on the need for border security, but say there is no national security crisis and believe a wall would be an impractical waste of money.

“I do think if we reopen the government, if the president ends this shutdown crisis, we have folks who can negotiate a responsible, modern investment in technology that will actually make us safer,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said on Fox.

USA, Government
Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, gestures while speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 28, 2018. VOA

Coons blames the impasse on border wall funding that led to the shutdown on Trump. He said the president had accepted a border security package that included money for a wall, then changed his mind.

“The only crisis here is one that’s been created by the president’s abrupt change in position at the end of last year in the last days of a Republican-controlled Congress,” Coons said. He added that Trump should test the Democrats’ willingness to compromise by the concessions he is willing to make clear to everyone.

Trump insists building a wall along the border will bring down the nation’s crime rate. He says illegal drugs are pouring into the United States from Mexico, even though security experts say most come through legal ports of entry.

He said he is in the White House waiting for Democrats to come and make a deal.

‘Having fun’

Trump chided 30 congressional Democrats for heading to a Hispanic Caucus retreat in Puerto Rico to watch a charity performance of the smash Broadway show “Hamilton.”

Trump mocked them for “having fun” while he remains in snowy Washington.

USA, Government
A woman takes a picture as floodlights from the U.S. side light up a border fence, topped with razor wire, Jan. 10, 2019, along the beach in Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

But the lawmakers reportedly bought their own tickets to the show. They will also meet Puerto Rican officials on the recovery from Hurricane Maria – the powerful storm that devastated the island in 2017. They have also brought donated medical supplies.

Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees will begin their 24th day Monday either furloughed or working without pay.

Newspapers and TV newscasts across the country are filled with stories of government workers lying awake at night wondering how they are going to pay their bills.

Also Read: Broken Border’ More Dangerous Than ‘Shutdown’ : Donald Trump

Congress says all affected federal workers will get back pay as soon as the shutdown is over, but that brings little assurance to those who have immediate expenses and little or no savings in case of an emergency.

While Trump has said he “can relate” to their loss of income, he says a broken border is more damaging than a government shutdown. (VOA)

Next Story

William Barr, U.S. Attorney General Nominee Grilled On Russia Probe

The nominee criticized so-called "sanctuary cities" that do not notify federal officials about undocumented immigrants who are taken into custody.

0
USA, Attorney General
Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, William Barr, goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee again Wednesday, after pledging in his first day of confirmation hearings to shield the special counsel’s Russia probe from political pressure.

In his initial appearance before the panel, Barr also took issue with Trump’s labeling the investigation of his inner circle’s contacts with Moscow as a “witch hunt.”

“I don’t believe (special counsel Robert) Mueller would be involved in a witch hunt,” Barr said, adding that he intends to let the probe run its course and that the results should be made known to the public and Congress.

Barr said the special counsel could only be terminated for good cause and that “it’s unimaginable” that Mueller would “ever do anything that gave rise to good cause.”

Democrats repeatedly stressed the importance of independence to the role of attorney general and noted Trump’s penchant for lashing out at the Justice Department.

USA, Attorney General
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., accompanied by Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.,(R) questions Attorney General nominee William Barr during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

“I believe it is important that the next attorney general be able to strongly resist pressure, whether from the administration or Congress,” California Democrat Dianne Feinstein said. “He must have the integrity, the strength and the fortitude to tell the president ‘no’ regardless of the consequences.”

“If confirmed, the president is going to expect you to his bidding. I can almost guarantee he’ll cross the line at some point,” Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy said.

“I can truly be independent,” Barr insisted. “I’m in a position in life where I can do the right thing and not really care about the consequences … I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong.”

Barr’s memo

Barr, who served as attorney general under President George H. W. Bush, has drawn scrutiny for a memo he wrote last year criticizing special counsel Mueller for examining whether Trump tried to obstruct the investigation by firing then-FBI Director James Comey in 2017.

USA, Attorney General
Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks during a news conference to announce a criminal law enforcement action involving China, at the Department of Justice in Washington, Nov. 1, 2018. VOA

In a memo to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Russia investigation, Barr opined that probing Trump’s actions toward Comey was “fatally misconceived” and “grossly irresponsible.”

The memo, written last June, came to light after Trump nominated Barr, 68, to succeed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom Trump ousted over his recusal from oversight of the Russia investigation. The document sparked widespread concern among minority Democrats in the Senate, who have long feared Trump intends to shut down the probe.

At the confirmation hearing, Barr argued his memo was “narrow in scope” and did not address the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and other “potential obstruction-of-justice theories.”

Later in the hearing, Barr said, “I think Russians attempted to interfere with the [2016] election, and I think we have to get to the bottom of it.”

USA, Attorney General
Attorney General nominee William Barr testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 15, 2019. VOA

Republicans also sought assurances from the nominee. The committee’s new chairman, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, expressed outrage over extensive communications between two FBI agents during the 2016 presidential campaign that showed extreme bias and prejudice against Trump.

“We’re relying on you to clean this place up,” Graham said of the Justice Department.

Graham also asked if, as commander in chief, Trump has the authority to divert federal funding in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Without looking at the statute, I really couldn’t answer that,” Barr replied.

Also Read: “I Never Worked For Russia”, Says US President Donald Trump

The nominee criticized so-called “sanctuary cities” that do not notify federal officials about undocumented immigrants who are taken into custody. He also weighed in on the current standoff between the White House and congressional Democrats over border wall funding.

“I would like to see a deal reached whereby Congress recognizes that it’s imperative to have border security, and that part of that border security, as a commonsense matter, needs barriers,” Barr said. (VOA)