Trump tweets into the void as shut­down breaks record

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

WASH­ING­TON — As the US par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down slipped into the record books on Satur­day, mem­bers of Congress had left town, no ne­go­ti­a­tions were sched­uled and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted into the void.

He did not tip his hand on whether he will move ahead with an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion that could break the im­passe, free up money for his wall with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval and kick off le­gal chal­lenges and a po­lit­i­cal storm over the use of that ex­tra­or­di­nary step. A day ear­lier, he said he was not ready to do it “right now”.

Law­mak­ers are due back in Wash­ing­ton from their states and con­gres­sional dis­tricts in the new week.

Trump fired off a se­ries of tweets push­ing back against the no­tion that he doesn’t have a strat­egy to end what be­came the longest gov­ern­ment shut­down in US his­tory when it en­tered its 22nd day on Satur­day. “Elec­tions have con­se­quences!” he de­clared, mean­ing the 2016 elec­tion in which “I promised safety and se­cu­rity” and, as part of that, a border wall.

Trump also said he has “no idea” whether he can get a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who op­poses spend­ing money on an “in­ef­fec­tive, waste­ful wall”.

The pres­i­dent is ex­pected in the new week to sign leg­is­la­tion passed by Congress to pro­vide back pay for about 800,000 fed­eral work­ers who aren’t be­ing paid dur­ing the shut­down. Pay­checks were due Fri­day, but many work­ers re­ceived stubs with ze­ros.

Al­most half of the State De­part­ment em­ploy­ees in the US and about one-quar­ter abroad have been fur­loughed dur­ing the shut­down.

“This is re­ally an in­flec­tion point,” a fur­loughed em­ployee of the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity said ear­lier this week. He joined hun­dreds of peo­ple like him at a rally north of the White House to urge an end to the shut­down.

“Peo­ple are not get­ting their pay­checks, and the hard­ship is re­ally go­ing to set in for many of the fam­i­lies,” he said on the con­di­tion of anonymity. “I just want to say that Amer­i­can fed­eral work­ers are ready to work, and they shouldn’t be caught in the mid­dle.”

An emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion by Trump could break the stale­mate by let­ting him use ex­ist­ing, un­spent money to build the US-Mex­ico border wall, with­out need­ing con­gres­sional ap­proval. Democrats op­pose that step but may be un­able to stop it. Many Repub­li­cans are wary, too.

Trump has been coun­seled by out­side ad­vis­ers to move to­ward declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency for the “cri­sis” that he says ex­ists at the south­ern border. This, as polls sug­gest Trump is get­ting most of the blame for the shut­down.

But some in the White House are try­ing to ap­ply the brakes. Jared Kush­ner was among those op­posed to the dec­la­ra­tion, ar­gu­ing to his father-in-law that pur­su­ing a broader im­mi­gra­tion deal was a bet­ter op­tion.

Pelosi ar­gued that Trump is merely try­ing to steer at­ten­tion away from spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion and other White House prob­lems. “This is a big di­ver­sion, and he’s a master of di­ver­sion,” she told re­porters.

Trump has told ad­vis­ers he be­lieves the fight for the wall, even if he never gets money for it, is a po­lit­i­cal win for him.

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