US Senate & House approve spending & border security bill to avert gov’t shutdown

Both houses of the US Congress have passed a spending and border security bill, dodging a new government shutdown. Lacking the funds for President Trump’s border wall, the bill opens the door to him declaring a national emergency.

Passed by both the Republican-controlled Senate and Democrat-controlled House, the bill now moves to the White House. While Trump is expected to sign it, the president has made it clear he will declare a national emergency to get the funding for his wall. The bill provides just $1.375 for fencing at the US-Mexico border, a far cry from the $5.7 billion Trump requested.

Also on rt.com Trump will declare national emergency as he signs watered-down wall funding bill...

The spending bill, which funds several government agencies to the tune of over $300 billion, passed the Senate with a vote of 83-16 and the House with a vote of 300-128 on Thursday. It also provides over $22 billion for “border security initiatives,” including upgraded technology at ports of entry, assistance for illegal immigrants apprehended crossing the border, and more border patrol hires. It will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and provide a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal workers, as well as a $1 billion increase in funding for the Census Bureau.

Both parties have framed the bill as a victory. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his approval of Trump’s decision to use a national emergency to requisition more money for his wall, and Republicans pointed to the addition of more steel slat border fencing as a win.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill a “fair compromise,” noting they had gotten away without funding “the president’s expansive and ineffective wall.” The wall was at the heart of the impasse that caused the longest shutdown in US history, shuttering the government for almost two months as both parties refused to back down.

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Trump will declare national emergency as he signs watered-down wall funding bill

President Donald Trump will sign a spending bill that denies him funding for a border wall, but averts another government shutdown. Trump will also declare a national emergency, allowing him to bypass Congress and build the wall.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday that Trump will sign the bill, but “will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

Statement on Government Funding Bill:

The bill allocates just $1.3 billion for a barrier along the US-Mexico border – a drastically lower amount than originally requested by the president. It also explicitly prohibits a concrete wall, and includes a number of concessions to Democrats, such as amnesty for illegal immigrants in the US with unaccompanied minors, a ban on wall construction in several national parks, and no funding for hiring more Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.

Ahead of the signing, many of Trump’s supporters rubbished the deal, urging the President not to sign it.

The emergency declaration, however, allows Trump to divert funds from other parts of the government to fund the wall without Congressional approval. Trump hinted on Tuesday that he already has $23 billion in funding lined up “from other sources.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that declaring a national emergency would set a dangerous precedent. "Republicans should have some dismay about the door they are opening, the threshold they are crossing,” she said, adding that Democrats may meet the declaration with legal challenges.

An executive order may be overturned in Congress, but to do so would take two-thirds majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, something the Democrats lack. Unless Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can convince enough Republicans to cross the aisle, the courts may be the only recourse available to the Democrats.

“We’re very prepared” for legal challenges, Press Secretary Sanders told reporters, adding that “there shouldn’t be” any. “The president’s doing his job. Congress should do theirs.” 

Also on rt.com 'Bad' border deal welcomed by 'Swamp', but Trump seems unconcerned...

The final text of the nearly 1,200 page spending bill was released on Wednesday evening, leaving lawmakers less than 24 hours to read its contents, let alone debate and amend it.

Failure to sign the bill would see another government shutdown begin on Friday, something that lawmakers on both sides are keen to avoid. The last partial shutdown, which ended on January 25, cost the US economy somewhere between $6 and $11 billion, and saw Trump’s approval rating drop from 48 to 43 percent.

 

 

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US Congress Announces Deal to Prevent Government Shutdown

The deal will not allow President Trump to get away with the six billion + he originally requested for his reckless and inhumane border wall, but it will make some concessions to Republicans.

The U.S. Congress announced on Monday a ‘tentative’ deal to avert President Donald Trump’s new dangerous government shutdown, scheduled for Friday, and to avoid leaving thousands of public workers once again without pay.

RELATED: California Rejects Trump's 'Political Theater', Announces Pull Out of National Guard

The deal will not allow President Trump to get away with the six billion + he originally requested for his reckless and inhumane border wall, but it will make some concessions to Republicans hoping to strengthen immigration controls.

Lawmakers returned to a point in the talks prior to the Democrats demand for limiting immigrant detentions, and effectively dropped some of them in order to compromise with Republicans.

“What brought us back together I thought, tonight, was we didn’t want that to happen,” said senate Appropriations Chairman Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) who is the Republican leading the talks.

Republicans have seen some blow back from the Trump-induced government shutdown which already cost the United States US$3B with 800,000 federal employees working 35 days without pay.

Lawmakers are calling it “an agreement in principle,” which includes US$1.375 billion for a type of fencing which is similar to Trump’s desired steel fence, spanning a total of approximately 55 miles—nine miles shy of the President’s request— along the U.S.-Mexico border. However, it is not clear if these resources will be used to expand the border fencing or to fortify what already exists.

For their part, Democrats sacrificed their petition to restrict the number of migrants who can be detained by the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE). It would also appear to some Republicans that the funding will suffice to reach the president’s requested 52,000 beds, more than the number negotiated during the talks, according to Politico.

In context, President Trump threw the federal government—and the lives of thousands of workers and provision of services—into disarray over his unjustified request for a border wall expanding 200 miles at a cost of approximately US$6B.

He received only a portion of that after months of wrestling with Democrats and putting the lives of federal workers in suspense.

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Talks Collapse on Border Deal as US Government Shutdown Looms

While a growing number of Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would not embrace another shutdown, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he could not rule it out.

Talks on border security funding collapsed after Democratic and Republican lawmakers clashed over immigrant detention policy as they worked to avert another U.S. government shutdown, a Republican senator said on Sunday.

“The talks are stalled right now,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told “Fox News Sunday.” He said the impasse was over Democrats’ desire to cap the number of beds in detention facilities for people who enter the country illegally.

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Efforts to resolve the dispute over border security funding extended into the weekend as a special congressional negotiating panel aimed to reach a deal by Monday, lawmakers and aides said.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester played down any breakdown in talks. “It is a negotiation. Negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through,” he told the Fox program. Tester, one of 17 negotiators, said he was hopeful a deal could be reached.

But Shelby put the chances of reaching a deal by Monday at 50-50. No further talks were scheduled, a source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The lawmakers hoped to have an agreement by Monday to allow time for the legislation to pass the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate and get signed by President Donald Trump by Friday, when funding for the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies expires.

Trump agreed on Jan. 25 to end a 35-day partial U.S. government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a wall along the border with Mexico, handing a political victory to Democrats.

Instead, a three-week spending deal was reached with congressional leaders to give lawmakers time to resolve their disagreements about how to address security along the border.

One sticking point has been the Democrats’ demand for funding fewer detention beds for people arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Republicans want to increase the number as part of their drive to speed immigrant deportations.

Since he ran for president in 2016, Trump has pledged to stop the influx of undocumented immigrants by building a wall on the border and crack down on immigrants living in the United States illegally by aggressively conducting more deportations.

‘DESPERATELY NEEDED’

Democrats proposed lowering the cap on detention beds to 35,520 from the current 40,520 in return for giving Republicans some of the money they want for physical barriers, the source familiar with negotiations said.

But Democrats would create a limit within that cap of 16,500 beds at detention facilities for undocumented immigrants apprehended in the interior of the country. The remainder would be at border detention centers.

By having the interior cap, ICE agents would be forced to focus on arresting and deporting serious criminals, not law-abiding immigrants, a House Democratic aide said on Sunday.

Republicans balked at the Democrats’ sub-cap offer, the source said.

Trump weighed in Sunday, saying the Democratic proposal would protect felons. “They are offering very little money for the desperately needed Border Wall & now, out of the blue, want a cap on convicted violent felons to be held in detention!” Trump said on Twitter.

“Claims that this proposal would allow violent criminals to be released are false,” the Democratic aide said.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who is close to Trump, warned against limiting beds. “Donald Trump is not going to sign any legislation that reduces the bed spaces. You can take that to the bank,” he said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”

Lawmakers working on a border deal also have not yet nailed down the amount of money to go for physical barriers along the southern U.S. border, the source said.

While a growing number of Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would not embrace another shutdown, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he could not rule it out.

“You absolutely cannot,” Mulvaney, who is also Trump’s acting chief of staff, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “Is a shutdown entirely off the table? The answer is no.”

Lawmakers, however, were working to avoid it.

On Friday, some of the negotiators said that if Congress could not pass a border security bill by Friday, they would move to pass another stop-gap funding bill to avert a shutdown and allow more time to reach a border deal.

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Trump announces short-term deal to end government shutdown with no wall funding

The 35-day closure, the longest in U.S. history, has furloughed 800,000 federal employees while the president and Democrats battled over the wall.

President Donald Trump announced on Friday a short-term deal to temporarily reopen the government.

The stop-gap agreement with congressional leaders will last three weeks, until Feb. 15, and would allow talks to continue over security on the southern border. The deal includes no money for his border wall.

"In a short while, I will sign a bill to reopen the government for three weeks until Feb. 15," Trump said in the Rose Garden. "I will make sure that all employees receive their back pay very quickly or as soon as possible."

Trump announced the deal 35 days into the longest-ever partial government closure that has left an estimated 800,000 federal employees without pay and created a host of problems.

On Thursday, the president said that if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were about to reach a reasonable agreement to end the shutdown, he would support it.

The shutdown began just before Christmas and has left approximately 400,000 workers home from work without pay, while another 400,000 were required to be on the job without pay. The workers will receive back pay, under the agreement.

Trump and congressional Democrats have been at a standoff over the president's demand for $5.7 billion to build his wall along the southern border.

Following the November midterms that saw Democrats retake the House of Representatives, the president called for billions to build the border wall he put at the heart of his presidential campaign.

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US House Passes Bill To Reopen Some Agencies Shut Down Amid Border Wall Row

WASHINGTON: The Democratic-controlled US House of Representatives voted on Friday to restore funding for federal agencies that have been shut down by a fight with President Donald Trump over border wall funding, as some 800,000 government workers, from tax collectors to FBI agents, missed their first paycheck.

But a full resumption of government operations did not appear in sight because Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring the House bill up for a vote. Republicans who control the Senate have so far stood with Trump and insisted that any spending bills include money for his wall.

The House bill, which passed 240-179 with only a handful of Republicans supporting it, would restore funding for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, two of the agencies that have been without funding since Dec. 22 amid the standoff over the proposed wall along the US-Mexico border. The bill provides $35.9 billion in discretionary funding, $6 billion above Trump's budget request and $601 million above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level.

Facing the prospect of the longest US government shutdown in history, Trump has said he might declare a national emergency to bypass Congress to get funding for his wall, which was a central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

"Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border," Trump said on Twitter on Friday, a day after he visited the Texas-Mexico border. "I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!"

Entering its 21st day, the partial shutdown on Friday tied the record for the longest in US history. Some 800,000 federal workers did not receive paychecks that would have gone out on Friday. Some have resorted to selling their possessions or posting appeals on online fundraising outlets to help pay their bills.

"Most of them are living from paycheck to paycheck and now they approach this day on Friday having moved from paycheck to no check," Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings said in debate on the House floor.

The head of the US Secret Service, which is responsible for protecting Trump, warned employees that financial stress can lead to depression and anxiety. "Keep an eye out for warning signs of trouble," Director RD "Tex" Alles wrote in a memo seen by Reuters.

House approves back pay

The House also passed a bill by a bipartisan vote of 411-7 that would provide back pay to federal workers once the shutdown ends. That legislation, which has already been passed by the Senate, now heads to Trump's desk to be signed into law.

Separately, Senator Rob Portman and eight other Republican senators introduced legislation that would permanently outlaw the closing of government operations during budget fights, underscoring the growing frustration in Washington.

During his presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged that Mexico would pay for the wall, which he says is needed to stem the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs. But the Mexican government has refused and Trump is now demanding that Congress provide $5.7 billion in US taxpayer funding for the wall.

Democrats in Congress call the wall an ineffective, outdated answer to a complex problem.

With no Capitol Hill compromise in sight, Trump publicly ruminated on Thursday during the Texas trip about declaring an emergency.

A close Trump confidant judged the time for such a step had come. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a statement: "It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works."

Critics of the national emergency strategy have said it may be illegal. In any case, it was almost certain to trigger an immediate court challenge from Democrats, including an accusation of trying to circumvent Congress' power over the national purse strings.

An emergency declaration would come with risks. Even some of Trump's fellow Republicans in Congress have signaled worries about such an action. Given that the Constitution gives Congress the power to set spending priorities and appropriate money, they worry about a tough legal fight and an unwise precedent.

"I don't think he should do that. It's a bad precedent," Republican Senator Chuck Grassley said on CNBC. "It seems to me that

An emergency declaration, however, would allow the government to be fully reopened while the judges weigh the case, which could take months.

Before the shutdown began, Trump said he would be "proud" to close the government over the issue of border security and would not blame Democrats, although he later did.

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US: Federal Workers March On White House Against Trump Shutdown

Federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

United States federal employees launched protests Thursday in different cities to demand the end of the administration's partial government closure, which has been paralyzing the country for the last 20 days, due to President Donald Trump's steady desire for border wall funding.

RELATED: US: Union Sues Trump Administration Over Government Shutdown

"Thousands of hard-working Americans are being excluded from their jobs for no other reason than the politics of fear. Shame on the Senate! Shame on the White House!," Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO - the largest union platform in the country, declared.

On the 20th day of a partial shutdown, furloughed federal employees marched in front of the White House, chanting slogans which included "We Want Our Pay!", "Stop The Shutdown!" and "We Want to Work!"

One of them, Elaine Suriano, a 62-year-old environmental protection agency scientist, said she will be forced to dip into her retirement savings if the shutdown continues. "It's just clear that [Trump] administration doesn't understand normal people and real life or they wouldn't do this," Suriano said.

Mathew Crichton, a Peace Corps employee, said uncertainty over how long the shutdown will last made it impossible to budget for food, lodging and other needs. "It could go on another day, and it could go on more weeks. It could go on for months," Crichton said and added that "it's really a shame that I'm ready to go to work, I'm able to go to work and I can't."

“I’m a furloughed Federal employee, but the doesn’t just affect me. My daughter’s daycare is in the Commerce Dept and is closed during the shutdown, but we still have to pay our weekly invoice.” More here -->

In cities such as Philadelphia (Pennsylvania), Ogden (Utah) or Denver (Colorado) there were also various manifestations of union pushback. Protesters, wearing green vests which read "I am a worker, I demand a voice," asked for detaching the U.S. Federal Administration's functioning from any debate over President Trump's border wall funding.

To deal with the suspension of payments, thousands of federal employees have decided to apply for unemployment benefits, even though technically they do have a job.

More than 4,700 public workers joined the unemployment lists in the last week of December, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This procedure will allow the affected individuals to receive financial compensation for being officially unemployed.

Once the U.S. government is reopened, federal workers could collect their past payrolls. However, thousands of subcontracted employees will not have the same benefit.

Other federal workers have also turned to online fundraising outlets such as GoFundMe.com to help cover expenses from food to utility bills.

Tonight at 11 and , meet a Walton, KY family struggling to make ends meet in the midst of the . They've got a sick one-year-old daughter that needs constant care and rely on dad's job at the IRS. Hear their message to President Trump.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DwmOuA1WwAU9iSR.jpg

On Dec. 22, 2018, U.S. President Trump decided on a partial closure of the Federal Administration, seeking to put pressure on Congress to approve a US$5.7-billion funding for the construction of a wall at the border with Mexico, a device Trump states will deter Central American migrants from entering the country.

Besides affecting 800,000 employees who have stopped receiving their salary, Trump's government shutdown has disrupted the operations of different tourist facilities and activities of agencies which are yet to be assigned new resources.

Little or no advances toward ending the partial shutdown have occurred, since Trump has been intransigent in his negotiations with Democrats.

 

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