Senate Guarantees Federal Workers Back Pay
The U.S. Senate on Thursday night unanimously passed a bill guaranteeing federal workers they will be paid everything they are owed when the government shutdown ends.
While it sounds like good news, it will not immediately help more than 800,000 workers who are missing their first payday this week since the shutdown began Dec. 22.
When the shutdown enters its fourth week Saturday morning, it will set the record for the longest in U.S. history and there are no signs a negotiated settlement is in sight.
Democrats are refusing to give President Donald Trump more than $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
He says a wall is needed to stop illegal immigration and the drugs and crime he says come with it.
Trump visits border
Trump visited the border town of McAllen, Texas, Thursday, saying he may declare a national emergency.
“We’re either going to have a win, make a compromise, because I think a compromise is a win for everybody, or I will declare a national emergency,” he said.
A declaration would allow Trump to spend the money without congressional approval. It would likely bring an immediate court challenge from Democrats who say there is no emergency at the border and that the president would be overstepping his constitutional authority.
While in McAllen, Trump visited a Border Patrol station and inspected a table heaped with illegal drugs and weapons.
He was told most of the contraband was seized at legal points of entry — not the remote border crossings the president says need to be sealed off.
The president also met with the families of those killed by illegal immigrants.
Trump said a “wall works.” He made the promise of a wall the centerpiece of his 2016 campaign and insisted Mexico will pay for it.
Who pays for the wall?
The president said Thursday, “I never meant they’re going to write out a check, I said they’re going to pay for it. They are.”
Although, this contradicted statements he made during the campaign, Trump has more recently said the benefits from a renegotiated North American trade agreement would lead to Mexico paying for it.
Democrats support more security
Most Democrats say there is a need for more border security but that a wall is impractical, wasteful and immoral. Even some conservatives are beginning to wonder whether it’s an issue that makes it worth shutting down the government.
Trump is blaming the government shutdown and impasse on wall funding on the Democrats, especially House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer.
He says they are oblivious to national security and will not compromise.
Pelosi and Schumer say the president is obsessed by the wall and has manufactured a crisis, in part, to distract the country from his other problems.
They have proposed reopening the government and separating the wall issue for separate negotiations.