Top Repub­li­can tells Trump: Re­open gov’t

Se­na­tor Gra­ham: Gov’t should end shut­down for a short pe­riod to try to get a deal

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - FRONT PAGE - —REUTERS

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.

—AFP

STILL NODEAL US Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham ar­rives at the of­fice of Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell for a meet­ing at the Capi­tol in Wash­ing­ton.

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