800,000 left un­paid inThe Trump’s long­est-ever gov­ern­ment shut­down

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - Talk Of The Town - From Caro­line Gra­ham IN LOS AN­GE­LES

HE OF­TEN boasts about set­ting records, but US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has passed an un­wanted mile­stone – the long­est gov­ern­ment shut­down in his­tory.

About 800,000 fed­eral work­ers are un­paid, in­clud­ing Mr Trump’s own Se­cret Ser­vice body­guards.

The shut­down – which to­day en­tered its 23rd day – was trig­gered af­ter the Pres­i­dent’s de­mand for $5.7bil­lion (£4.4bil­lion) to build a wall along the bor­der with Mex­ico was re­jected by Democrats. As re­ports of hard­ship among gov­ern­ment work­ers grew, Nancy Pelosi, Demo­crat leader of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, yes­ter­day said the onus was on Mr Trump. ‘When the Pres­i­dent acts, we will re­spond to what­ever he does,’ she said.

DeCarann Speaks, a mother- of-two and the wife of a Bor­der Pa­trol agent in Ver­mont who is await­ing back pay, said: ‘If the shut­down keeps go­ing, my hus­band said he’ll call his par­ents and see if they’ll lend us some money. Some days I just want to sit and cry, but I have to stay pos­i­tive for my chil­dren.’

Mr Trump or­dered the shut­down on De­cem­ber 22 af­ter his de­mand for funds to build his long-promised wall was re­jected by Democrats, who de­scribed it as ‘costly and im­moral’.

The clo­sure has hit the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity, the In­te­rior De­part­ment and the In­ter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, as well as forc­ing the clo­sure of na­tional parks and mu­se­ums.

More than 7,000 Se­cret Ser­vice em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing those who pro­tect Mr Trump and his fam­ily, have not re­ceived their wages and 42,000 Coast Guards are work­ing with­out pay.

Hil­lary Clin­ton, who lost the 2016 elec­tion to Mr Trump and whose hus­band Bill was Pres­i­dent in 1996 when the pre­vi­ous 21-day shut­down record was set, said: ‘Amer­i­cans can’t af­ford an­other day. Peo­ple are miss­ing pay cheques, los­ing busi­ness and work­ing with­out pay.’

A food bank in Wash­ing­ton DC yes­ter­day ar­ranged pop-up mar­kets for un­paid fed­eral work­ers and asked vol­un­teers to pack bags of food. Clas­si­fied ad­ver­tis­ing web­site Craigslist said it had been in­un­dated with list­ings from gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees try­ing to sell pos­ses­sions.

Mean­while, the White House yes­ter­day de­scribed a New York Times re­port that the FBI opened an in­quiry into whether Mr Trump was se­cretly work­ing for Rus­sia as ‘ab­surd’.

The news­pa­per said law en­force­ment of­fi­cials be­came wor­ried by Mr Trump’s be­hav­iour in May 2017, when he sacked FBI di­rec­tor James Comey. A sub­se­quent in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­am­ined whether the Pres­i­dent was a na­tional se­cu­rity threat.

BOR­DER CLASH: Pres­i­dent Trump

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