Shutdown update: Trump says he'll sign off on back pay for federal workers

January 11, 2019

The partial government shutdown stretched into its 21st day on Friday, tying the record for the longest. Judges, law enforcement officers, NASA engineers, weather forecasters and office staff were among some 800,000 federal workers who missed their first paychecks.

Here's a look at the latest developments:

Trump to sign bill for back pay to workers

President Donald Trump said he will sign legislation Congress has passed authorizing back pay for federal government workers once the shutdown ends.

“The message is that I appreciate their service to the country,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

About 380,000 federal employees have been put on furlough since Dec. 22 across nine government departments and dozens of agencies, while 450,000 employees are working without pay. For many of them, Friday marked the first missed paycheck.

Trump won’t use emergency powers ‘right now'

President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t immediately seek to invoke emergency authority to build a border wall, telling reporters at the White House that would be “the easy way out.”

“The easy solution is for me to call a national emergency,” Trump said. “But I’m not going to do it so fast.”

Trump has asserted he has an “absolute right” to bypass Congress and fund the wall on his own authority by declaring a national emergency. But he indicated he wanted to spend more time trying to get Democrats in Congress to agree.

“What we’re not looking at right now is national emergency,” Trump said. But if Democrats “yell” that there’s no way they’ll vote for a wall, then “we’ll start thinking about another alternative,” he said.

Wall negotiations at standstill in Congress

Negotiations over ending the government shutdown are at a standstill with no talks scheduled for the rest of the day or weekend in Congress, according to two congressional aides.

The last meeting between President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leaders ended with Trump walking out. He said "bye-bye" after Pelosi said she wouldn’t provide funding for a border wall even if Trump reopened the government.

Since that meeting on Wednesday, both sides have blamed each other, with the White House arguing Democrats are refusing to negotiate and Democrats accusing Trump of forcing government workers to go unpaid as leverage to get $5.7 billion for a wall that voters don’t want.

The Office of Management and Budget is preparing plans for a shutdown to continue through the end of February in an attempt to mitigate the impact, according to an administration official.

An attempt Thursday by moderate Republican senators to broker a deal trading immigration protections for Dreamers for wall money collapsed after the White House said the time wasn’t right for such a trade-off.

Shutdown to set record as Congress leaves

Both chambers of Congress adjourned for the weekend, ensuring the longest shutdown in modern history as lawmakers from both parties said they’re at a stalemate over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

Even if Trump this weekend declares an emergency to tap existing funds to build the wall, lawmakers will still need to pass funding measures to open shuttered agencies, votes that couldn’t be held before next week.

Saturday will mark the 22nd day of the current partial shutdown. In 1995-96, the government was shuttered for 21 days.

Pence urges Border agents to ‘focus on mission’

Vice President Mike Pence met with border agents in Washington to urge them to “focus on the mission” in the face of the government shutdown and missed paychecks.

“We’re going to figure this thing out,” Pence told them. “We’re going to get you the support you need. We’re going to build that wall.”

House clears back pay for federal workers

The House cleared a bill to ensure the more than 800,000 federal workers who have lost wages due to the three-week government shutdown will be promptly paid when the government reopens.

The measure passed 411-7 on a bipartisan vote after the Senate unanimously approved it on Thursday. President Donald Trump has said he supports paying the workers.

About 380,000 federal employees have been put on furlough since Dec. 22 across nine government departments and dozens of agencies, while 450,000 employees are working without pay. For many of them, Friday marked the first missed paycheck.

The bill, S. 24, would guarantee workers are paid promptly regardless of pay schedule, and would restore any annual leave canceled during the shutdown.

House Democrats vote to reopen U.S. Parks, EPA

The House voted 240-179 to reopen U.S. national parks along with the rest of the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Democratic majority once again failed to splinter Republican members’ support for the three-week government shutdown triggered by President Donald Trump’s demand to pay for a border wall. Only 10 Republicans voted to reopen the parks, some of which have seen damage from tourists no longer being monitored by park rangers.

The Interior measure, H.R. 266, is virtually identical to one that passed the Senate last year on a 92-6 vote. Now, the GOP-controlled Senate doesn’t plan to vote on any legislation to reopen the government unless Trump promises to sign it. The White House says Trump will veto the measure unless he gets the border security funding.


Recent Articles by Bloomberg News

Comments powered by Disqus