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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

New Rule in USA to Allow Passengers to Bring Pet Animals on Flight

New Rules Could Bump Emotional-Support Animals From Planes

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Airlines can now let passengers bring other animals on board, but hefty fees would apply. Pixabay

The days of passengers bringing rabbits, turtles and birds on planes as emotional-support animals could be ending.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Wednesday proposed that only specially trained dogs qualify as service animals, which must be allowed in the cabin at no charge. Airlines could let passengers bring other animals on board, but hefty fees would apply.

Airlines say the number of support animals has been growing dramatically in recent years, and they have lobbied to tighten the rules. They also imposed their own restrictions in response to passengers who show up at the airport with pigs, pheasants, turkeys, snakes and other unusual pets.

“This is a wonderful step in the right direction for people like myself who are dependent on and reliant on legitimate service animals that perform a task to mitigate our disability,” said Albert Rizzi, founder of My Blind Spot, which advocates for accessibility for people of different ability levels.

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Airlines say the number of support animals has been growing dramatically in recent years, and they have lobbied to tighten the rules. Pixabay

Tighter rules praised

The U.S. airline industry trade group praised the tighter rules. Industry officials believe that hundreds of thousands of passengers scam the system each year by claiming they need their pet for emotional support. Those people avoid airline pet fees, which are generally more than $100 each way.

“Airlines want all passengers and crew to have a safe and comfortable flying experience, and we are confident the proposed rule will go a long way in ensuring a safer and healthier experience for everyone,” said Nicholas Calio, president of Airlines for America.

Flight attendants had pushed to rein in support animals, too, and were pleased with Wednesday’s proposed changes.

“The days of Noah’s Ark in the air are hopefully coming to an end,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants. The union chief said untrained pets had hurt some of her members.

Veterans groups pleased

Veterans groups have sided with the airlines, arguing that a boom in untrained dogs and other animals threatens their ability to fly with properly trained service dogs. Last year, more than 80 veterans and disability groups endorsed banning untrained emotional-support animals in airline cabins.

“It’s just interesting how people want to have the benefits of having a disability without actually losing the use of their limbs or senses just so they can take their pet with them,” Rizzi said.

Southwest Airlines handles more than 190,000 emotional support animals per year. American Airlines carried 155,790 emotional support animals in 2017, up 48% from 2016, while the number of checked pets dropped 17%. United Airlines carried 76,000 comfort animals in 2017.

Department officials said in a briefing with reporters that they are proposing the changes to ensure safety on flights. They also said some passengers have abused the current rules.

The public will have 60 days to comment on the proposed changes, and they could take effect any time after that.

The Transportation Department proposes a narrow definition of a service animal — it would be a dog that is trained to help a person with a physical or other disability. Passengers who want to travel with a service dog will have to fill out a federal form on which they swear that the dog is trained to help them with their disability. A dog that is trained to help a passenger with psychiatric needs would continue to qualify as a service animal.

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Oscar the cat, who is not a service animal, sits in his carry on travel bag after arriving at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. VOA

Note from medical professional

Currently, passengers have been allowed to bring many other animals if they have a medical professional’s note saying they need the animal for emotional support.

The proposal would prohibit airlines from banning particular types of dog breeds — Delta Air Lines bans pit bulls, for example — but airline employees could refuse to board any animal that they consider a threat to other people.

The president of the Humane Society of the United States said airlines had “maligned” pit bulls by banning them. Kitty Block said the Transportation Department’s rule against breed-specific prohibitions “sends a clear message to airlines that their discriminatory practices are not only unsound, but against the law.”

The new rules would also bar the current practice by many airlines of requiring animal owners to fill out paperwork 48 hours in advance. A department official said that practice can harm disabled people by preventing them from bringing their service dog on last-minute trips. But airlines could still require forms attesting to an animal’s good behavior and health, which could present challenges if the form has to be completed by a specific institution, Rizzi said.

Also Read- Spain Takes a Step Forward to Combat Climate Change

The proposal also says people with service animals must check in earlier than the general public, and would end the rarely seen use of miniature horses as service animals, although a Transportation Department official indicated the agency is open to reconsidering that provision.

Airlines could require that service animals be on a leash or harness and fit in its handler’s foot space. They could limit passengers to two service animals each, although it is unclear how often that happens under the current rules. (VOA)