The Plot Thickens as the Stalemate Continues

by Jonathan Easley and Alexis Simendinger 

President Trump appears closer to declaring a national emergency at the southern border to circumvent Congress and secure the money he’s demanding to build a wall.

“The law is very clear. We have the absolute right to declare a national emergency. … I think we’re going to see what happens over the next several days. …We’re not going anywhere. We’re not changing our mind.” — Trump to Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity during stop at the Texas border

From The Hill’s Jordan Fabian:

“The White House is looking at $13.9 billion in funding approved by Congress last year to use for building Trump’s wall in the event he declares an emergency. That bill provided funding for various Army Corps of Engineers projects that have been allocated but not spent.”

The White House has not committed to this route, although the president’s allies are urging him to take drastic measures to end the government shutdown.

“It is time for President Trump to use emergency powers to fund the construction of a border wall/barrier. I hope it works.” — Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)

The Memo: Trump moves to brink of emergency declaration.

The Hill: Some House Democrats warm to Trump’s emergency declaration, believing it would end the shutdown and lose in court.

The Hill: Legal obstacles await national emergency declaration for wall.

Friday marks the 21st day of the shutdown, tying the previous record for the longest government closure, which stretched between 1995 and 1996.

There’s no deal in sight.

The White House is not backing down from its insistence that Congress allocate $5.7 billion for the project.

“No wall, no deal.”Vice President Pence

House Democrats have no plans to fork over the money. The House passed stand-alone measures to fund several agencies on Thursday but the Senate will not take the bills up and the White House has already said the president would veto the legislation if it reached his desk.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to adjourn the Senate today despite protests from Democrats that he take up the House-passed bills. A last-ditch effort by a group of Senate Republicans to strike an immigration deal that might end the partial government shutdown has fallen apart.

Amid that backdrop, the partial government shutdown is spilling into the real world, with federal workers protesting at the White House, suing the government and going on strike as they prepare to miss paychecks for the first time.

The Associated Press: Payday without pay hits federal workers.

The pain will become real for 800,000 people and their families on Friday, when about half of those federal workers will be on the job but not getting paid. The Senate passed a bill guaranteeing back pay for federal workers and Trump has said he’ll sign it, but it would do nothing to alleviate the pressure for those living paycheck to paycheck.

On Thursday, scientists, judges, NASA employees and members from dozens of federal worker labor unions marched to the White House to demand that their agencies be reopened.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), the largest union representing federal workers, has filed a lawsuit under the Fair Labor Standards Act to protest its members working without pay.

“Many of our employees struggle every day to make ends meet, and they cannot afford to miss even one paycheck.” — AFGE National President J. David Cox Sr.

A handful of federal workers filed their own lawsuit against President Trump, saying that being forced to work without pay is tantamount to indentured servitude. FBI agents are lobbying Congress to end the shutdown and Transportation Security Agency (TSA) workers are protesting at airports.

The Washington Post: Travelers offer TSA officers tips, gifts to show support.

The Associated Press: Federal workers seek loans, second jobs.

The uprising from the federal workforce, as well as scores of stories about government services placed on hold amid the shutdown, increase pressure on lawmakers to do something.

“I’m working on what I would consider just a bare-bones funding mechanism that will pay the essential employees, whether it’s Coast Guard, TSA, [Customs and Border Protection], people involved in national security, homeland security. Making sure that as long as parts of the government are shutdown, the essential parts can remain open and are funded.” — Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) to Hill.TV

The shutdown is also impacting the economy at a time when many analysts are forecasting a global economic slowdown.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said an extended shutdown “would show up in the data pretty clearly.”

Politico: (Hyper Estimate) Shutdown’s economic damage estimated at $1 billion a week.

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