WASHINGTON. President Donald Trump is telling Democrats in no uncertain terms: You want a government shutdown, you got one. His abrupt Thursday cancellation of military aircraft support for a planned Democrat Congressional “fact finding” junket halfway across the world was his emphatic way of telling House Speaker Pelosi, stay here and work this out.
The bigger story here is this: The government shutdown is beginning to anger more and more Americans. But will they end up more angry at House Speaker Pelosi or President Trump for this ongoing and increasingly serious impasse.
Shame on you the first time, shame on me the second
President Trump is channeling millions of Americans when he says “no” to the truculent House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Remember that in March of 2018, after signing a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, Trump clearly stated he would not sign further appropriations bills that did not include border wall security funding. By signing that bill at the time, Trump avoided a Government shutdown. But he vowed never to allow himself to end up signing a similar bill again. Now it’s that time.
JUST IN: President Trump announces he is signing the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress this week despite misgivings because he wants to “take care of our military.”
— CNN (@CNN) March 23, 2018
“There are a lot of things that I’m unhappy about in this bill,” the President noted at the time.
A matter of priorities
Trump also said,
“There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill but we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military, we were forced to have. There are some things that we should have in the bill. But I say to Congress that I will never sign another bill like this again. I’m not going to do it again. Nobody read it, it’s only hours old.” (emphasis added)
Yet, just under a year later, the new Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, offered the President another major spending bill. Presumably, it was filled with spending on Democrat pet projects. But once again, it did not provide one dollar for border security.
The House bill 239-192 to reopen the Department of Homeland Security includes a continuing resolution lasting through Feb. 8, to give lawmakers to come to a solution over border funding. Five Republicans voted with the Democrats.
However, the President is correct in not playing “kick the can” because he has learned that he cannot trust Congress to support his agenda. The agenda that America voted for, he might remind you.
Getting some Federal employees back to work
When GM needed a bailout, President Obama found the money. Wall Street needed a bailout, President Obama found the money. When the banks needed a bailout, President Obama found the money. Now our national security, Federal employees and contractors need a bailout. And our Congress needs to find the money. The problem is, the Democrats will simply not allow President Trump to address our national and border security in a definitive way, putting all the above — security, Federal employees and government contractors — equally at risk.
But President Trump and his team are doing their best to plug the gap, given the complete absence of negotiations with Nancy Pelosi’s House. Bill Todd, the deputy undersecretary for Civil and Foreign Service officers on Thursday,told staffers that the department is “taking steps to make additional funds available to pay employee salaries.”
“By taking these steps, the department expects to be able to resume most personnel operations and fund most salaries beginning with Pay Period 2,” Todd’s notice states. “As a result, all State Department direct-hire employees and State Department locally employed staff are expected to report to work on their first work day in Pay Period 2. For most employees, that will be January 22. For some overseas posts, where Sunday is the first day of the work week, that will be January 20.”
Shutdown’s impact goes beyond Federal employee paychecks
The partial shutdown is affecting 800,000 federal workers with delayed paychecks.
Some 450,000 are now being asked to report to work. Tens of thousands more will be returning after recent announcements from the Trump administration.
- At the IRS, 36,000 employees were asked to return to deal with tax season,
- About 1,700 FAA aviation safety inspectors were told to return after the agency ran preliminary safety tests
- 2,500 employees at the Agriculture Department will briefly return to process farm loans.
And now, the spillover effect of the partial government shutdown on the U.S. economy is also beginning to hurt in sometimes unusual ways. It’s happening in Colorado, where craft breweries are waiting for government approval on new products. It’s also beginning to affect private contractors who provide various services to government agencies projects. They are now going without work or pay. And, unlike Federal employees, they won’t eventually be reimbursed for those lost paychecks.
Furloughed employees will receive back pay
President Donald Trump has signed a bill requiring back-pay for both furloughed federal workers and those called in during the shutdown. Employees will receive pay for the upcoming period, receiving paychecks on Feb. 14. Afterward, the department “will review balances and available legal authorities to try to cover future pay periods.” However, back-pay promised in the future does not mean being able to pay for childcare, mortgages, food in the present.
White House calls bipartisan meeting “constructive”
At least some members of the House are willing to work with the President to solve the budget impasse in a serious way. Earlier in the week, the White House said a bipartisan meeting with members of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, including Democrats, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Thomas Suozzi, Vincente Gonzalez, Anthony Brindisi, Dean Phillips, Max Rose, and Abigail Spanberger, met with President Trump.
Unfortunately, Problem Solvers were there to deliver the standard Pelosi message that “some of our country’s toughest problems” can “only begin in earnest once the government is reopened.” In other words, we’ll fund the government, end the partial Federal shutdown. And then, maybe, we might consider discussing the border wall. Maybe. Possibly.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders termed the meeting that it was “constructive.”
Yet there was no indication that Caucus members budged on Pelosi’s hard line.
A positive spin?
Even so, the President’s press secretary Sarah Sanders put a positive spin on the meeting.
“The President and his team had a constructive meeting with bipartisan members of the problem solvers caucus. They listened to one another and now both have a good understanding of what the other wants. We look forward to more conversations like this.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham crosses the aisle, but with no results
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said a bipartisan group of senators is asking Trump to go along with a compromise. It would include a short-term measure to reopen the Federal government. The senators promise that Trump moves to reopen the government,they might be able to reach a viable solution. Allegedly, it would meet the president’s border security needs.
“I’m hoping in the next 24 hours there will emerge a group of Republicans and Democrats who will basically ask the president jointly to give us a few weeks to work on this, with you, to see if we can produce a result in the Senate,” Graham said, later adding that he couldn’t guarantee an outcome in that time but “can pretty well guarantee you’re getting nowhere quick doing what we’re doing.”
“I would ask the president, if that does come forward and there’s a critical mass of Republicans and Democrats asking for a period of time to work on this a short term CR, the president strongly consider giving us that opportunity,” he said. “If that doesn’t work, then you can act through executive power saying I did everything I could,” Graham said, referring to Trump’s threats to fund a border wall by declaring a national emergency through an expansion of executive power.
Graham swings, but misses
But Monday, Trump rejected Graham’s idea, which Graham first proposed over the weekend. The President knows how Democrat promises to Republican presidents to “address” tax or security issues “later” always end up. “Later” is Washingtonspeak for “never.”
On the political front, neither Democratic congressional leaders nor President Donald Trump have any meetings currently scheduled. That said, no talks can take place if the Democrats scatter about, as they almost did on Thursday. And as they did in Puerto Rico just a few days earlier.
Cancel the SOTU, scrub the House Democrats’ CODEL trip
Clearly, the President wants Democrats to stay in Washington until the Federal shutdown is over. That was a major reason why he effectively canceled the Speakers’ CODEL (Congressional Delegation) trip abroad. The Pelosi-led junket was to depart Thursday afternoon. The Delegation was to fly overseas on a military transport, which the President controls.
In a letter to Nancy Pelos made public President Trump termed her planned trip abroad, a “public relations event.”
Arguably, it was the President’s payback for Pelosi’s suggested scrubbing of Trump’s State of the Union Address before Congress. But typically, Trump’s Democrat and media detractors called this “childish,” or “tit for tat” politics.
But what was Pelosi’s transparent attempt to cancel Trump’s Presidential address until he presumably caved on the border wall? In his letter to Pelosi, Trump informed her of the following.
“I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt and Afghanistan has been postponed,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the shutdown is over.”
“It would be better if you were in Washington, negotiating with me and joining the Stronger Border Security movement to end the shutdown.”
The President helpfully noted that she could still take the CODEL trip if she chose to fly commercial. Particularly following the Democrats’
long holiday weekend business trip in Puerto Rico.
Thank you to Brett Baier of Fox News for the news tip.