Day 17 Shutdown Update – no solution in sight

As the sun rose on Monday in the nation’s capital, the story remained the same on the pre-Christmas funding lapse which has shuttered a chunk of the federal government, with no indications of any deal between the White House and Congress on funding for the President’s border wall or other border security measures, as it looks more and more that impacted workers will miss a pay day scheduled for this Friday, January 11.

“It’ll all work out,” the President told reporters at the White House Sunday after a quick staff retreat at Camp David. “What we need is we need a strong border.”

But the signs weren’t pointing to a quick resolution.

1. Lawmakers not involved in weekend negotiations. While Vice President Pence eagerly tweeted about weekend talks between the White House and Congress, there was one thing which stood out from the photos released by his office – there were no lawmakers from either party involved. Just staffers. And while aides are very important players, they aren’t the ones making the decisions, or voting on them in the House and Senate.

2. House and Senate not in session on this Monday. Even if a deal magically appeared on this 17th day of the shutdown, lawmakers couldn’t do anything about it today, as the House and Senate aren’t back until Tuesday. While the House last week approved a pair of funding bills to re-open the federal government, Senate Republicans are not planning to bring those up on the floor, as the first bill up for consideration in 2019 will be on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Democratic Senators are making it clear they will block such plans, arguing bills funding the government should be first.

3. House Democrats to pass more spending bills. With the Senate refusing to act on funding measures approved last week by the Democratic House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced this weekend that Democrats would keep passing bills to fund those agencies which are under a shutdown, looking to increase pressure on GOP lawmakers in both the House and Senate. The bills are nearly identical to legislation designed by Republicans in the Senate in 2018. The first vote would be on a financial services measure, which funds the Treasury Department, IRS, Securities and Exchange Commission, and other government agencies. Also on the list, the Interior funding bill, which deals with the National Park Service.

H.R. ___ Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, 2019 [PDF] [XML]
H.R. ___ Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 [PDF] [XML]
 
H.R. ___ Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 [PDF] [XML]
 
H.R. ___ Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 [PDF] [XML]

 

4. First paycheck could be missed this Friday. Every hour that goes by this week without a deal makes it more and more likely that some 800,000 federal workers – even those who have been required to work over the 17 days of the partial shutdown, would not be getting paid. Asked about the ability of government workers to pay their bills, President Trump said Sunday that he expected federal workers would be able to “adjust” financially, as he expressed confidence that they supported his drive for border security. “But many of those people that won’t be receiving a paycheck, many of those people agree 100 percent with what I’m doing,” Mr. Trump said.

5. Democrats question Park Service money moves. As the National Park Service announced Sunday that it would start using money from park entrance fees to cover costs during the shutdown, some Democrats said that was not allowed under federal law. The move came as trash piled up, restroom facilities were closed because of unsanitary conditions, and examples flowed in of problems at various parks around the nation, like Joshua Tree in California. Meanwhile, ethics groups raised their eyebrows at one National Park Service post which remained fully staffed in Washington – which is located in the Trump International Hotel just blocks from the White House.

 

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