Trump edges closer to declar­ing na­tional emer­gency

Ledger-Enquirer - - Front page - BY JONATHAN LEMIRE, LISA MAS­CARO AND JILL COLVIN

The par­tial gov­ern­ment shut­down was on track Fri­day to be­come the long­est clo­sure in U.S. his­tory as Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and ner­vous Repub­li­cans scram­bled to find a way out of the mess. A so­lu­tion couldn’t come soon enough for fed­eral work­ers who got pay state­ments Fri­day but no pay.

The House and Sen­ate voted to give fed­eral work­ers back pay when­ever the fed­eral gov­ern­ment re­opens and then left town for the week­end, leav­ing the shut­down on track to be­come one for the record books once the clock struck mid­night and the clo­sure en­tered its 22nd day. The bill passed Fri­day re­quires that all em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing those who have been fur­loughed, be paid as soon as pos­si­ble once the gov­ern­ment re­opens.

The bill now heads to Trump, who is ex­pected to sign it.

While Trump pri­vately con­sid­ered one dra­matic es­cape route – declar­ing a na­tional emer­gency to build the wall with­out a new stream of cash from Congress – mem­bers of his own party were fiercely de­bat­ing that idea, and the pres­i­dent urged Congress to come up with an­other so­lu­tion.

“What we’re not look­ing to do right now is na­tional emer­gency,” Trump said. He in­sisted that he had the au­thor­ity to do that, adding that he’s “not go­ing to do it so fast” be­cause he’d still pre­fer to work a deal with Congress.

About 800,000 work­ers missed pay­checks Fri­day, many re­ceiv­ing blank pay state­ments. Some posted pho­tos of their empty earn­ings state­ments on so­cial me­dia as a ral­ly­ing cry to end the shut­down, a jar­ring im­age that many in the White House feared could turn more vot­ers against the pres­i­dent as he holds out for bil­lions in new wall fund­ing.

With polls show­ing Trump get­ting most of the blame for the shut­down, the ad­min­is­tra­tion ac­cel­er­ated plan­ning for a pos­si­ble emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion to try to get around Congress and fund the wall from ex­ist­ing sources of fed­eral rev­enue. The White House ex­plored di­vert­ing money for wall con­struc­tion from a range of other ac­counts. One idea be­ing con­sid­ered was di­vert­ing some of the $13.9 bil­lion al­lo­cated af­ter last year’s deadly hur­ri­canes and floods.

That op­tion trig­gered an out­cry from of­fi­cials in Puerto Rico and some states re­cov­er­ing from nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, and ap­peared to lose steam on Fri­day.

Cal­i­for­nia Gov. Gavin New­som called it an “un­con­scionable” idea to look at us­ing dis­as­ter as­sis­tance “to pay for an im­moral wall that Amer­ica doesn’t need or want.”

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