Another work week begins in the U.S. Monday – but not for hundreds of thousands of federal employees forced to stay home because of the government shutdown.
Hundreds of thousands of others will be on the job this week, but will not get a paycheck.
President Donald Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the hardship of not getting paid. But he is telling federal workers to “make adjustments” because he said he will not bend in his demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration.
Congressional Democrats refuse to include money for a wall in the federal budget, with the standoff having prompted the Trump administration to order the partial shutdown.
Trump said Sunday he could make a deal with Democratic leaders “in 20 minutes if they want to. If they don’t want to, it’s (the shutdown is) going to go on for a long time.”
He also said the barrier along the southern border could be a fence made of steel instead of a wall made of concrete if that will make people happier.
But Republican Senator Susan Collins called the argument over whether the wall is steel or concrete “bizarre” and says reopening the government must be Congress’ top priority.
“I’ve never thought that shutdowns are an appropriate means of trying to achieve any kind of solution. This isn’t a matter of one side or the other caving in. It’s a matter of getting to a compromise and that is a sign of strength,” Collins told NBC’s Meet the Press.
Trump says national security is his top priority and claims many federal workers are glad to give up their paychecks for a wall to stop drugs, terrorists and criminal gangs from crossing into the county from Mexico.
Trump says he is considering declaring a national emergency which would allow him to build a wall without congressional approval – a move some Democrats say would be challenged in the courts.
“Look, if [President] Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border,” Congressman Adam Schiff said on CNN.
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Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream. They say they are interested in border security too, but believe there are better and more tangible ways toward that end. (VOA)