Sides still far apart in U.S. shut­down

‘I am in the White House ready to sign,’ he says amid im­passe

The Dallas Morning News - - Front Page - Mike DeBo­nis,

The long­est U.S. gov­ern­ment shut­down in his­tory grinds into a fourth week with the sides still far apart as un­paid work­ers feel the pinch.

WASH­ING­TON — The long­est fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down in U.S. his­tory ground into a fourth week Satur­day with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump show­ing fresh de­fi­ance on Twit­ter, con­gres­sional Democrats firmly re­solved to re­sist his calls for a bor­der wall, and un­paid work­ers caught in the mid­dle.

“We will be out for a long time un­less the Democrats come back from their ‘va­ca­tions’ and get back to work,” Trump tweeted Satur­day morn­ing. “I am in the White House ready to sign!”

Trump’s state­ments came a day after some 800,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees missed an ex­pected pay­check, and after he tamped down spec­u­la­tion that he might de­clare a na­tional emer­gency to be­gin con­struc­tion on his wall and break the im­passe. In­stead, he told re­porters Fri­day, “we want Con­gress to do its job.”

Mean­while, many law­mak­ers were back home hear­ing from frus­trated con­stituents, in­clud­ing Demo­cratic Rep. Chrissy Houla­han, who held town hall meet­ings Satur­day in south­ east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.

There, she said in an in­ter­view, she heard from a school­teacher afraid the lo­cal food bank would no longer be able to of­fer meals for her stu­dents; the op­er­a­tor of a fed­er­ally funded women’s shel­ter that is now hav­ing to turn peo­ple away; and a tax pre­parer who could not be­gin se­cur­ing re­funds for her in­di­gent clients be­cause the IRS had not made the nec­es­sary soft­ware avail­able.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to say the least, be­cause the things that I ran on and that many of the peo­ple who just came into this Con­gress ran on, are get­ting lost in this non­sense,” Houla­han said.

While they may never be pre­cisely cal­cu­lated, the costs of the shut­down are likely al­ready into the bil­lions, and they con­tinue to mount. Be­yond the likely cost of pay­ing fur­loughed em­ploy­ees for work not done, ad­di­tional costs in­clude even­tual over­time costs to deal with back­logs of work and the in­di­rect im­pacts of var­i­ous shut­tered pro­grams and ser­vices.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion es­ti­mated the di­rect costs of the two­week Oc­to­ber 2013 shut­down at $2.5 bil­lion, while es­ti­mat­ing an­other $2 bil­lion to $6 bil­lion

in lost eco­nomic out­put. Those fig­ures did not in­clude other fis­cal im­pacts, in­clud­ing mil­lions in lost user fees and in­ter­est owed on late fed­eral pay­ments.

Con­gress on Fri­day passed leg­is­la­tion to guar­an­tee back pay for all work­ers af­fected by the shut­down — both those who have been fur­loughed and those who have con­tin­ued work­ing as per­son­nel deemed es­sen­tial to the pro­tec­tion of life and prop­erty. Trump said Fri­day that he would sign it.

In past shut­downs, both fur­loughed and non-fur­loughed work­ers have got­ten back pay, though fed­eral con­trac­tors and their em­ploy­ees are gen­er­ally left un­com­pen­sated.

In his tweets Satur­day, Trump re­acted sharply to a tele­vised com­ment that he lacks a strat­egy for end­ing the shut­down.

“I do have a plan on the Shut­down,” he said. “But to un­der­stand that plan you would have to un­der­stand the fact that I won the elec­tion, and I promised safety and se­cu­rity for the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Part of that prom­ise was a Wall at the South­ern Bor­der. Elec­tions have con­se­quences!”

Bren­dan Smi­alowski/Agence France­Presse

A U.S. Park Po­lice of­fi­cer rode across Penn­syl­va­nia Av­enue dur­ing the shut­down’s 22nd day on Satur­day.

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