Tuesday, 19 March, 2019

U.S. gov't shutdown poised to break record with no compromise in sight

12 Jan 2019, 01:22 ( 2 Months ago)

DF-Xinhua Report
Photo taken on Jan. 5, 2019 shows the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump is demanding over 5 billion U.S. dollars in border security to deliver his signature campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico, which has strongly rejected by Democrats. Their disagreement has led to a budget impasse and a partial government shutdown, which enters its 15th day Saturday. File Photo Xinhua.

The partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government over disputed congressional funds for President Donald Trump's border wall is poised to break record and become the longest in U.S. history when it enters the 22nd day on Saturday.

   And still, no compromise is in sight, no deal is looming, and no easy alternative solution is foreseen.

   Even not much ado was observed in the Congress on Friday when the shutdown tied the 21-day record from the Clinton administration in 1990s. The Senate left town for the week after 1:00 p.m. ET and the House of Representatives also adjourned until Monday.

   PAYDAY WITHOUT PAY

   It seems only more groans can be heard, especially among some 80,000 federal workers who have been forced to go on unpaid leave or work without pay during the shutdown starting on Dec. 22.

   The shutdown officially hit their pocketbooks on Friday for the first time as they missed a paycheck on the supposed payday.

   The House sends to Trump's desk earlier on Friday a Senate-approved bill guaranteeing back pay for federal workers missing paychecks due to the ongoing shutdown. However, 78 percent of American workers say they're living paycheck to paycheck, according to a 2017 report by employment website CareerBuilder.

   The U.S. National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) on Friday sued the federal government, claiming it "unlawfully deprived NATCA members of their earned wages without due process" during the shutdown.

   The association accused the government of violating the Fair Labor Standards Act because it is not paying air traffic controllers at least minimum wage and because the Federal Aviation Administration did not pay them overtime during the shutdown.

   Meanwhile, a NPR/Ipsos Poll issued Friday found that about seven in 10 Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say the government shutdown is "embarrassing for the country" and will hurt the economy. Only three in 10 believe the government should remain closed until there is funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

   The poll results suggest an upper hand of congressional Democrats in the ongoing stalemate with Trump, local analysts say.

 

   NO EASY WAY OUT

   The negotiations over the wall-funding dispute have largely hit a dead end amid the ongoing shutdown, with no easy alternative way out is in sight.

   On Friday, Trump said a national emergency is the easy way to end the shutdown though he "won't do it so fast" and rather not.

   "What we're not looking to do right now is national emergency," the president reportedly told a roundtable discussion on border security at the White House.

   Trump said earlier this week that he will almost "100 percent" declare a national emergency as a way to fund his border wall if Congress can't reach a deal.

   Local media said the reason why Trump is reluctant now is that he believes his administration will be sued and such a move will be blocked by the federal court.

   "I'll be sued. It'll be brought to the 9th Circuit and maybe even though the wording is unambiguous...we'll probably lose there, too," Trump said, adding he would "hopefully win" at the Supreme Court.

   Many Republican lawmakers also worry about a national emergency solution will set a bad precedent for a future Democratic president.

   Trump has locked himself in the stalemate over his demand for 5.7 billion dollars for funding a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, which was the major campaign promise he made in June 2015 when he announced his decision for a presidential bid.

   Democrats have pointed to 1.3 billion dollars as their cap, and insisted on it be used on fencing instead of a concrete border wall. They have vowed to block any sort of funding for the wall, accusing Trump of having "manufactured" a crisis on the border.

   Earlier on Friday, House Democrats, together with 10 Republicans, passed a bill to reopen the Interior Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Forest Service. But the bill is expected to go nowhere since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted he would not bring up any funding measure unless with Trump's support.