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U.S. President Donald Proposes Deal To End Shutdown

A spokesperson for Pelosi's office said the trip would have provided "critical national security and intelligence briefings"

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Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks about the partial government shutdown, immigration and border security in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, in Washington, Jan. 19, 2019. VOA

In a bid to end the monthlong partial shutdown of the U.S. government, President Donald Trump on Saturday offered Democrats compromises on his hard-line immigration policies, but they were knocked down by the opposition party even before he spoke.

“We hope they will offer their enthusiastic support, and I think many will,” Trump said of the Democrats. “The radical left can never control our borders. I will never let it happen.”

In his remarks, broadcast live from the White House Diplomatic Reception Room, Trump called for 2,750 more federal agents for immigration control and $5.7 billion for a steel barrier covering 370 kilometers (230 miles) of the border with Mexico.

“It is time to reclaim our future from the extreme voices who fear compromise and demand open borders,” Trump said. “That is why I am here today to break the logjam.”

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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

Pair of programs

Trump offered compromises on two programs his administration has targeted for elimination: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for immigrants from some Latin American and African nations.

The bipartisan Bridge Act would allow 740,000 immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, often referred to as Dreamers, to keep their work permits and hold off deportations for three more years if their permits have been revoked.

That plan has been strongly opposed by some prominent conservative commentators.

Shortly before Trump spoke, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the offer a compilation of several previously rejected initiatives that were “unacceptable” and said the president’s proposal was “not a good-faith effort.”

“It is unlikely that any one of these provisions alone would pass the House, and taken together, they are a nonstarter. For one thing, this proposal does not include the permanent solution for the Dreamers and TPS recipients that our country needs and supports,” Pelosi added in her statement.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 17, 2019. VOA

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California, tweeted: “We will never allow a shutdown as a negotiating tactic. Need to reopen government first.”

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne, an Alabama Republican, chastised his Democratic Party colleagues in the House for rejecting Trump’s proposal even before the president announced it, saying Trump “keeps trying to negotiate and Democrats just keep saying no.”

Trump said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, would bring his proposed legislation to the floor next week in order to “immediately reopen our federal government.”

The president made his announcement shortly after he attended a naturalization ceremony in the Oval Office for five new American citizens, highlighting his support for legal immigration.

Trump’s proposal reportedly stems from a Thursday night meeting involving his son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner; Vice President Mike Pence; and McConnell to craft an outline for legislation that could win sufficient approval from opposition lawmakers.

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is surrounded by reporters as he returns from meeting with President Donald Trump and Democratic leaders at the White House, to the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Jan. 2, 2019. VOA

McConnell has resisted any immigration-related bills being introduced in the Senate that the president would not agree to sign in advance.

‘Time to make a law’

In a statement released after Trump’s speech, McConnell said, “Everyone has made their point — now it’s time to make a law. I intend to move to this legislation this week.”

There had been speculation Trump might declare the situation on the southern border a national emergency, giving him a face-saving way to end the government shutdown that could prove both politically and economically costly, while maintaining the backing of his core supporters.

Later, several top administration officials, including Vice President Mike Pence, Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, spoke with a small group of reporters at the White House.

Mulvaney cautioned that while declaring a national emergency “is still a tool that is available to the president,” it is not the preferred route.

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A man looks out at the U.S. border where workers are replacing parts of the U.S. border wall for a higher one, in Tijuana, Mexico, Dec. 19, 2018. VOA

The president faces pressure from his conservative base not to compromise on immigration issues. Some influential commentators, who are hard-liners on border security, have warned Trump that trading amnesty for wall funding could cost him re-election in 2020 because he would lose support.

Pence denied the criticisms, saying, “This is not an amnesty bill.” He said the proposal was for a three-year reprieve for DACA recipients and would not grant citizenship or permanent residency to any of the immigrants affected.

Trump has repeatedly insisted he needs $5.7 billion in taxpayer funding to extend a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.

The Democrats, who control the House but not the Senate, have offered more than $1 billion in new money for border security, but none specifically for a wall. Democratic sources say the money will be included in a packet of spending bills the House will consider next week — $524 million to improve ports of entry and $563 million to hire more immigration judges.

The impasse over the wall and the record-long government shutdown also led to a dispute between Trump and Pelosi over her plans to travel to Afghanistan.

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An Air Force bus waits on the plaza of the Capitol after President Donald Trump used his executive power to deny military aircraft to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just before she was depart to visit troops abroad, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 17, 2019.. VOA

‘Very irresponsible’

Pelosi accused the White House on Friday of leaking information about her planned trip to fly commercially to Afghanistan after Trump denied Pelosi the use of a military plane for the trip.

Pelosi said it was “very irresponsible on the part of the president” to release details about her sensitive travel plans, which the State Department said significantly increased the security threat on the ground.

The White House denied leaking Pelosi’s flight plans.

Trump on Thursday had revoked the use of a military plane for Pelosi and Democratic members of Congress for their planned trip to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops and to Brussels to take with NATO leaders. In a letter to the speaker, the president said that “in light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay [as a result of the shutdown], I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”

Also Read: U.S. President To Address The Nation Regarding The Shutdown

A spokesperson for Pelosi’s office said the trip would have provided “critical national security and intelligence briefings” as well as served as an opportunity for Pelosi to thank the troops.

The president’s letter did not directly address Pelosi’s call Wednesday for Trump to delay his scheduled Jan. 29 State of the Union address until government funding was restored and the shutdown ended. (VOA)

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Trump’s Deep Misunderstanding of Trade Policy is Threatening the American Economy

President Donald Trump's aggressive and unpredictable use of tariffs is spooking American business groups

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FILE - Steel rods produced at the Gerdau Ameristeel mill in St. Paul, Minn., await shipment, May 9, 2019. The recent flareup with the U.S. over Mexico tariffs may prove to be a pivotal juncture. VOA

President Donald Trump’s aggressive and unpredictable use of tariffs is spooking American business groups, which have long formed a potent force in his Republican Party. Trade

Corporate America was blindsided last week when Trump threatened to impose crippling taxes on Mexican imports in a push to stop the flow of Central American migrants into the United States.

The two sides reached a truce Friday after Mexico agreed to do more to stop the migrants. But by Monday, Trump was again threatening the tariffs if Mexico didn’t abide by an unspecified commitment, to “be revealed in the not too distant future.”

Such whipsawing is now a hallmark of Trump’s trade policy. The president repeatedly threatens tariffs, sometimes imposes them, sometimes suspends them, sometimes threatens them again. Or drops them.

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FILE – Traffic moves on the old Gerald Desmond Bridge next to its replacement bridge under construction in Long Beach, Calif., July 2, 2018. President Donald Trump’s tariffs provoke retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. VOA

Business groups, already uncomfortable with Trump’s attempts to stem immigration, are struggling to figure out where to stand in the fast-shifting political climate. They have happily supported Trump’s corporate tax cuts and moves to loosen environmental and other regulations. But the capriciousness of Trump’s use of tariffs has proved alarming.

“Business is losing,” said Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist and frequent Trump critic. “He calls himself ‘Mr. Tariff man.’ He’s proud of it. … It’s bad news for the party. It’s bad news for the free market.”

Also Read- U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

“It was a good wakeup call for business,” James Jones, chairman of Monarch Global Strategies and a former U.S. ambassador to Mexico, said of Trump’s abrupt move to threaten to tax Mexican goods.

Creating distance from Trump

Just last week, the sprawling network led by the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch announced the creation of several political action committees focused on policy — including one devoted to free trade — to back Republicans or Democrats who break with Trump’s trade policies. A powerful force in Republican politics, the network is already a year into a “multi-year multi-million dollar” campaign to promote the dangers of tariff and protectionist trade policies.

The Chamber of Commerce, too, is in the early phases of disentangling itself from the Republican Party after decades of loyalty. The Chamber, which spent at least $29 million largely to help Republicans in the 2016 election, announced earlier this year that it would devote more time and attention to Democrats on Capitol Hill while raising the possibility of supporting Democrats in 2020.

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FILE – A field of soybeans is seen in front of a barn carrying a large Trump sign in rural Ashland, Neb., July 24, 2018. President Donald Trump’s enthusiasm for tariffs has upended decades of Republican trade policy that favored free trade. VOA

Few expect the Chamber or business-backed groups like the Koch network to suddenly embrace Democrats in a significant way. But even a subtle shift to withhold support from vulnerable Republican candidates could make a difference in 2020.

Trump’s boundless enthusiasm for tariffs has upended decades of Republican trade policy that favored free trade. It has left the party’s traditional allies in the business world struggling to maintain political relevance in the Trump era.

Also Read- Canon Doing Research and Feasibility Studies to Explore the Possibility of Manufacturing its Products in India

Uncertainty for businesses

Trump’s tariffs are taxes paid by American importers and are typically passed along to their customers. They can provoke retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports. And they can paralyze businesses, uncertain about where they should buy supplies or situate factories.

“Knowing the rules helps us plan for the future,” said Jeff Schwager, president of Sartori, a cheese company that has had to contend with retaliatory tariffs in Mexico in an earlier dispute.

Trump seems unfazed.

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FILE – Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa speaks at a town hall meeting in Greenfield, Iowa, June 2, 2017. VOA

Myron Brilliant, head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, went on CNBC on Monday to decry “the weaponization of tariffs” as a threat to the U.S. economy and to relations with trading partners.

Trump responded by phoning in to the network to declare “I guess he’s not so brilliant” and defend his trade policies.

“Tariffs,” he said, “are a beautiful thing.”

Trump can afford to be confident about his grip over the party: Roughly nine in 10 rank-and-file Republicans support his performance as president, according to the latest Gallup polling. So Republicans in Congress have been reluctant to tangle with him.

Also Read- Apple to Bring Bigger Battery in its Upcoming 2019 iPhone Offerings

But last week’s flareup over the Mexico tariffs may prove to be a pivotal juncture. The spat was especially alarming to businesses because it came seemingly out of nowhere. Less than two weeks earlier, Trump had lifted tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel and aluminum — action that seemed to signal warmer commercial ties between the United States and its neighbors.

“This really came out of left field,” said Daniel Ujczo, a trade lawyer at Dickinson Wright. “It was something we thought we had settled, and we hadn’t.”

Weighing legislation

Congress was already showing signs of wariness, especially over Trump’s decision to dust off a little-used provision of trade law to slap tariffs on trading partners. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion of 1962 lets the president impose sanctions on imports that he deems a threat to national security.

Trump has deployed that provision to tax imported steel and aluminum. And he’s threatening to impose Section 232 tariffs on auto imports, a chilling threat to American allies Japan and the European Union.

Congress is considering bipartisan legislation to weaken the president’s authority to declare national-security tariffs. In doing so, lawmakers would be reasserting Congress’ authority over trade policy, established by the Constitution but ceded over the years to the White House.

The legislation has stalled in Congress this spring. But on Tuesday, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the bill would be ready “pretty soon.” Given “how the president feels about tariffs,” Grassley said, “he may not look favorably on this. So I want a very strong vote in my committee and then, in turn, a very strong vote on the floor of the Senate.”

Congressional reluctance to challenge Trump could be tested in coming months. Lawmakers may balk if he proceeds with plans to tax $300 billion worth of Chinese goods that he hasn’t already targeted with tariffs — a move that would jack up what consumers pay for everything from bicycles to burglar.

Likewise, taxing auto imports — an idea that has virtually no support outside the White House — would likely meet furious resistance. So would any move to abandon a trade pact with Mexico and Canada. Trump has threatened to withdraw from the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement if Congress won’t ratify a revamped version he negotiated last year.

For all their disenchantment with Trump, the Chamber of Commerce may yet find it hard to break its ties to the party. Though the chamber says it’s weighing a more bipartisan approach, it recently featured a sign on its front steps: It likened Trump to Republican icons Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. (VOA)