Top Republican tells Trump: Reopen gov’t
Senator Graham: Gov’t should end shutdown for a short period to try to get a deal
WASHINGTON— Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate judiciary committee, pushed US President Donald Trump to reopen the government for a limited period of time. This is to allow for talks with Democrats in Congress, who rejected Trump’s request to include $5.7 billion of taxpayer money in legislation that would fund his border security demands.
WASHINGTON— A Republican senator close to US President Donald Trump on Sunday backed a temporary reopening of the federal government, in the 23rd day of the longest shutdown ever, to allow for talks on a spending agreement that could satisfy Trump’s border security demands.
Democrats in Congress rejected Trump’s request that legislation to fund the government include $5.7 billion of taxpayer money for a wall on the US border with Mexico.
They have refused further negotiations until the government is reopened after being partially shut down since Dec. 22.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, chair of the Senate judiciary committee, said he urged the president on Sunday to reopen the government for a limited period to try to get talks going again.
‘Let’s make a deal’
If no progress is made, he said, then Trump should declare a national emergency as a way to get money to build his wall, a plan not popular with some fellow Republicans.
“Before he pulls the plug on the legislative option, and I think we are almost there, I would urge them to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug [to] see if we can get a deal,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”
He said Trump told him, “Let’s make a deal, then open up the government.”
The record shutdown has furloughed 800,000 federal employees and cut government services across the United States.
They missed their first paychecks on Friday, heightening concerns about mounting financial pressures on employees, including air traffic controllers and airport security officials who are working without pay.
Trump continued to blame Democrats for the impasse.
“I’m in the White House, waiting. The Democrats are everywhere but Washington as people await their pay. They are having fun and not even talk- ing!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
Drew Hammill, deputy chief of staff for Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responded on Twitter: “Speaker Pelosi has been in DC all weekend working from the Capitol.”
Trump is to blame
Recent polls show most Americans think the president is to blame.
Jennifer Lawless, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, said she believed Trump and Republicans would lose the game of chicken as furloughed workers, airport travelers, tourists and others “experience the consequences of political dysfunction firsthand.”
“At some point soon, the Republicans are going to remember that it’s real people in their districts who aren’t getting paid, real people who aren’t able to access government services, and real people who vote,” Lawless said.
Lack of TSA agents
A concourse at Miami International Airport was shut down for part of the weekend because not enough Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents were present to staff all of the airport’s security checkpoints.
Working without pay, TSA employees have been calling in sick in increasing numbers since the shutdown began.
On Sunday, TSA said it had a 7.7-percent national rate in unscheduled absences, compared with 5.6 percent on Saturday and 3.2 percent a year ago.
STILL NODEAL US Sen. Lindsey Graham arrives at the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for a meeting at the Capitol in Washington.