Government Shutdown 2018
February 2, 2019

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) cautioned President Trump against declaring a national emergency to obtain funding for border wall construction without congressional support, The Washington Post reported Friday night.

McConnell spoke with Trump at a private meeting at the White House on Tuesday, the Post story says, citing two unnamed Republican sources. The senator reportedly said such a declaration would split the GOP and hurt the president's political fortunes, and that Congress could well pass a resolution opposing the declaration, forcing Trump to choose between accepting the rebuke or vetoing a bill significantly supported by his own party.

Trump on Friday told reporters there is still a "good chance" he'll "have to" make the national emergency declaration, suggesting he might announce it during Tuesday's State of the Union address. Read more about national emergencies past and present here at The Week. Bonnie Kristian

January 5, 2019

Scheduled pay raises for top federal officials including Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Cabinet have been put on hold for the duration of the partial government shutdown.

The Office of Personnel Management directed federal agencies to freeze the raises in a memo Friday night, arguing "it would be prudent for agencies to continue to pay these senior political officials at the frozen rate until appropriations legislation is enacted that would clarify the status of the freeze."

The raises would have bumped recipients' pay by $10,000 per year while about 800,000 federal workers are on furlough or working without pay until shutdown negotiations are resolved.

At the end of December, President Trump issued an executive order canceling a 2.1 percent pay raise for federal civilian workers that was scheduled for January, instead freezing their pay for the duration of 2019. The order also cancels a January "locality pay increase," an annual adjustment of federal salaries tied to local cost of living, but it does not affect a 2.6 percent raise planned for military forces. Bonnie Kristian

December 29, 2018

While polling indicates a plurality of Americans blame him for the federal government's partial shutdown, President Trump suggested on Twitter Saturday his hands are tied until congressional Democrats are willing to negotiate:

Contrary Trump's implication, the military is fully funded through September and has not been affected by the partial government shutdown, which began last Saturday. The vast majority of law enforcement in the United States is conducted at the state or local level and thus is also not affected by the federal shutdown, though the departments of Homeland Security and Justice — which include Customs and Border Protection and the FBI, respectively — are among the agencies without current funding.

No significant progress in shutdown negotiations is anticipated until Jan. 3, when the new Congress takes office with a Democratic majority in the House. Bonnie Kristian

December 22, 2018

President Trump tweeted Saturday to say he is hard at work to resolve the government shutdown which he invited:

In a second tweet, Trump discussed this week's announcement that U.S. troops will leave Syria, noting U.S. military intervention there has lasted longer than expected and arguing regional powers like Turkey are equipped to handle any remaining terror threat:

CBS notes Trump was not in the Oval Office when the tweet was posted, as no Marine guard was stationed outside the office door. A Politico report indicates the White House tentatively scheduled Trump to leave for his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort midday Saturday, but a third tweet suggested that plan had been delayed, at least for a working lunch:

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday Trump would not begin his vacation while the shutdown continues. Bonnie Kristian

December 22, 2018

The White House did not release President Trump's schedule for Saturday the night before, as is typical practice, but an internal staff email obtained by Politico indicates the president is tentatively scheduled to leave midday Saturday for vacation at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

"Please be prepared to support a tentative POTUS departure tomorrow around 12:00," the email said. The message emphasized Trump's schedule could change depending on the outcome of congressional negotiations to end the partial government shutdown that began Saturday at midnight.

The planned Saturday departure may indicate the White House has reason to believe lawmakers will pass a spending bill including Trump's border wall funding demand soon. After all, the "optics of spending time at the luxury resort as the government shuts down — furloughing workers, closing facilities, and halting some federal services — would be risky for Trump," Politico notes. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday Trump would not begin his vacation while the shutdown continues.

First lady Melania Trump and the president's youngest son, Barron, have already departed Washington for Mar-a-Lago. Before the shutdown, Trump was scheduled to spend 16 days at the resort for the holidays. Bonnie Kristian

December 22, 2018

The federal government officially entered a partial shutdown Saturday at midnight after the Senate adjourned Friday without passing a stopgap funding measure.

President Trump has said he will not sign a new spending bill unless it includes $5 billion for his promised expansion of the wall — now, per Trump's Twitter, "a Steel Slat Barrier which is totally effective while at the same time beautiful" — on the southern border. The House passed a bill honoring Trump's request, but it is not expected to pass the Senate.

Most federal agencies are already funded through September of 2019, so the shutdown will only affect seven Cabinet-level departments — Homeland Security, Transportation, Commerce, Interior, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Justice — as well as some independent agencies like NASA and the IRS.

Some 420,000 employees of these agencies deemed "essential," like Forest Service firefighters and TSA agents, will continue to work without pay, while another 380,000 "non-essential" employees will be sent home without pay. Those who work through the shutdown are guaranteed to receive back pay when it is over, and the Senate passed a bill by unanimous consent Friday to guarantee back pay for furloughed workers as well. Bonnie Kristian

January 22, 2018

White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said the Democrats "blinked" Monday by agreeing to join Republicans to reopen the government. Democrats supported a bipartisan bill to fund the government until Feb. 8 in exchange for a promise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the Senate would address immigration issues, including the protections enshrined by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy.

"I think that the fact that [Democrats are] voting in favor for this proposal that they rejected a few days ago is sort of evidence that they blinked," Shah told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

The Democrats' decision passed the 60-vote threshold in the Senate and is expected to glide to approval in the House, but it is already controversial among many in the party. "Immigration advocates spent the morning rallying Democrats against the compromise deal with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)," Talking Points Memo writes. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) slammed her party's compromise, claiming that McConnell's comments "fell far short of the ironclad guarantee I needed to support a stopgap spending bill. I refuse to put the lives of nearly 700,000 young people in the hands of someone who has repeatedly gone back on his word."

Last week, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, told Democrats to not give the GOP "a single vote in keeping the government running … unless they give you a clean bill on DREAMers." Scarborough claimed: "If you do, you are too weak and too spineless and too stupid when it comes to politics and too cowardly to be given control of Congress in 2018." Jeva Lange

January 22, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Monday that Democrats will support a stopgap budget measure lasting until Feb. 8, on the condition that if an agreement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals isn't reached, then "the Senate will immediately proceed to consideration of legislation dealing with DACA." The deal, which is expected to pass shortly and reopen the government, gives Republicans "17 days to prevent the DREAMers from being deported," Schumer said.

Schumer reserved particularly heated criticism for the "deal-making president" who "sat on the sidelines" during negotiations, referring to President Trump. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) praised bipartisan efforts in the Senate as "encouraging."

Not everyone was pleased. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Sunday that it would be "ridiculous to commit" to a Feb. 8 DACA vote. Additionally, the deal is a bit of a "risky bet" for Democrats, Politico's Gabriel Debenedetti said. "Implicit in Dem leaders' bet: that short-term fury/disappointment from activists doesn't translate into long-term voter disengagement," he tweeted. "So ... gonna be a nervy few weeks, to say the least." Jeva Lange

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