Tuesday February 19, 2019
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U.S. President Donald Trump To Address The Nation Regarding The Shutdown

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.

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During a training drill, a Customs and Border Protection official stops the flow of northbound traffic at entrance to the San Ysidro port of entry, Jan. 10, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will make a major announcement about the government shutdown and border security during an address to the nation Saturday.

Trump said the announcement from the White House will take place at 3 p.m. Eastern Time and will address “the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.”

A standoff between Democrats and Republicans over funding for construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border has led to a government shutdown, which is 29-days-old Saturday.

Trump has called for more than $5 billion in taxpayer funding for the wall, while Democrats 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.

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This Jan. 14, 2019, photo released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection shows some of 376 Central Americans arrested in southwest Arizona for crossing into the United States illegally. They used holes dug under a barrier to cross in multiple spots. VOA

Shutdown travel dispute

The dispute over the wall and the government shutdown also led to a dispute between Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over her plans to travel to Afghanistan.

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.

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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

Trump on Thursday revoked the use of a military plane for Pelosi and Democratic members of Congress to fly to Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops and to Brussels to meet with NATO allies. It was the latest maneuver in a bitter political battle over the shutdown, which is now the longest such government stoppage in U.S. history.

In a letter to the speaker, the president said that “in light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.”

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 speaker’s office said, “In light of the grave threats caused by the president’s action, the delegation has decided to postpone the trip so as not to endanger our troops or security personnel.”

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.

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Construction crews install new border wall sections, Jan. 9, 2019, seen from Tijuana, Mexico. VOA

“This is completely inappropriate by the president,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters outside Pelosi’s office Thursday. “We’re not going to allow the president of the United States to tell the Congress it can’t fulfill its oversight responsibilities.”

No end in sight to shutdown

The back-and-forth between the White House and the speaker indicated there was no end in sight to the standoff.

“While many Democrats in the House and Senate would like to make a deal, Speaker Pelosi won’t let them negotiate,” Trump said in a speech at the Defense Department. “Hopefully, Democrat lawmakers will step forward to do what is right for our country, and what’s right for our country is border security at the strongest level.”

Democrats insist they will negotiate stronger, more effective border security measures once the government reopens, but that a border wall would be wasteful, ineffective and a blight on America’s image.

Pelosi, the top-ranking congressional Democrat, said Trump’s “insistence on the wall is a luxury we can no longer afford.”

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A National Park entrance fee collection service is temporarily suspended at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest point in North America, during the partial U.S. government shutdown, in Death Valley, California, U.S., Jan. 10, 2019. VOA

Later Thursday, Trump also canceled a planned trip by a U.S. delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The delegation, consisting of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and presidential assistant Chris Liddell, was scheduled to travel next week.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president wanted to make sure “his team can assist as needed” during the government shutdown.

Workers missing paychecks

Hundreds of thousands of federal workers missed a paycheck last week and are set to miss another next week.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will make a major announcement about the government shutdown and border security during an address to the nation Saturday.

Also Read: Partial Shutdown of US Delays Space Missions, But NASA Not Grounded

“Not only are these workers not paid, they are not appreciated by this administration,” said Pelosi. “We should respect what they do for their country.”

Pelosi’s move on the State of the Union drew sharp criticism from Senate Republicans.

“By disinviting POTUS for SOTU, Pelosi erased any pretext for her unwillingness to negotiate an end to the shutdown. It is personal, petty and vindictive,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas tweeted Thursday. (VOA)

Next Story

US States Sue Trump’s Administration for Obtaining Border Wall Funds

"Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power," California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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FILE - Border Patrol agent Vincent Pirro looks on near a border wall that separates the cities of Tijuana, Mexico, and San Diego, Feb. 5, 2019, in San Diego, California. VOA

A coalition of 16 U.S. states led by California sued President Donald Trump’s administration on Monday over his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California came just days after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday after Congress declined to fulfill his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise. His move aims to let him spend money appropriated by Congress for other purposes.

“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

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FILE – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, right, accompanied by Gov. Gavin Newsom, Feb. 15, 2019, in Sacramento, California. VOA

“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the Office of the Presidency is not a place for theater,” added Becerra, a Democrat.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violates the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could slow down Trump’s efforts to build the wall, which he says is needed to check illegal immigration and drug trafficking, but will likely end up at the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court.

In a budget deal passed by Congress to avert a second government shutdown, nearly $1.4 billion was allocated toward border fencing. Trump’s emergency order would give him an additional $6.7 billion beyond what lawmakers authorized.

In television interviews on Sunday and Monday, Becerra said the lawsuit would use Trump’s own words against him as evidence there is no national emergency to declare.

ALSO READ: US Military Planes Deliver Aid to Venezuela-Colombia Border

Earlier, Trump had said he knew that he did not need to declare an emergency to build the wall, a comment that could now undercut the government’s legal argument.

“Presidents don’t go in and claim declarations of emergency for the purposes of raiding accounts because they weren’t able to get Congress to fund items,” Becerra said on MSNBC. (VOA)