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U.S. Passes A Bill Promising Federal Workers’ Their Pay After The U.S. Shutdown Ends

Trump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the Democrats

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A U.S. Internal Revenue Services employee holds signs in front of the federal building at a rally against the U.S. federal government shutdown, in Ogden, Utah, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Senate on Thursday night unanimously passed a bill guaranteeing federal workers they will be paid everything they are owed when the government shutdown ends.

While it sounds like good news, it will not immediately help more than 800,000 workers who this week are missing their first payday since the shutdown began Dec. 22.

When the shutdown enters its fourth week Saturday morning, it will set the record for the longest in U.S. history and there are no signs a negotiated settlement is in sight.

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Democrats are refusing to give President Donald Trump more than $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Without an agreement on funding a border wall, Senate Republicans and the president are refusing to approve funding for eight federal departments, leading to a partial shutdown of the U.S. government.

In his continued crusade to convince Congress and the American people that a wall is needed between Mexico and the United States, the White House says Trump will hold a roundtable discussion on border security and safe communities Friday afternoon with state, local and community leaders.

Trump says a wall is needed to stop illegal immigration and the drugs and crime he says come with it.

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U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media as he stands with U.S. Border Patrol agents on the banks of the Rio Grande River during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border in Mission, Texas, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

Trump visits border

Trump visited the border town of McAllen, Texas, Thursday, saying he may declare a national emergency.

“We’re either going to have a win, make a compromise, because I think a compromise is a win for everybody, or I will declare a national emergency,” he said.

A declaration would allow Trump to spend the money without congressional approval. It would likely bring an immediate court challenge from Democrats who say there is no emergency at the border and that the president would be overstepping his constitutional authority.

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President Donald Trump tours the U.S. border with Mexico at the Rio Grande on the southern border in McAllen, Texas, Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

While in McAllen, Trump visited a Border Patrol station and inspected a table heaped with illegal drugs and weapons.

He was told most of the contraband was seized at legal points of entry — not the remote border crossings the president says need to be sealed off.

The president also met with the families of those killed by illegal immigrants.

Trump said a “wall works.” He made the promise of a wall the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and insisted Mexico will pay for it.

Who pays for the wall?

The president said Thursday, “I never meant they’re going to write out a check, I said they’re going to pay for it. They are.”

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Although, this contradicted statements he made during the campaign, Trump has more recently said the benefits from a renegotiated North American trade agreement would lead to Mexico paying for it.

Democrats support more security

Most Democrats say there is a need for more border security but that a wall is impractical, wasteful and immoral. Even some conservatives are beginning to wonder whether it’s an issue that makes it worth shutting down the government.

Trump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the DemocratsTrump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the Democrats, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.

Also Read: U.S. Shutdown Can Lead to More Flight Delays

He says they are oblivious to national security and will not compromise.

Pelosi and Schumer say the president is obsessed by the wall and has manufactured a crisis, in part, to distract the country from his other problems.

They have proposed reopening the government and separating the wall issue for separate negotiations. (VOA)

Next Story

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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President Donald Trump speaks about American missile defense doctrine, Jan 17, 2019, at the Pentagon. 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)