Back pay bill for shutdown heads to Trump’s desk.

The News & Observer - - Front Page - BY CATHER­INE LUCEY, LISA MAS­CARO AND ZEKE MILLER

As the par­tial gov­ern­ment shutdown dragged on and leg­is­la­tion to give retroac­tive pay to fed­eral work­ers headed to him for his sig­na­ture, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tamped down ex­pec­ta­tions that he is close to declar­ing a national emer­gency to get the money he de­sires for a U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der wall.

Mean­while, about 800,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees, more than half still on the job, missed their first pay­check un­der a stop­page that tied a record for the long­est gov­ern­ment shutdown. With the clo­sure’s grow­ing im­pact on the econ­omy, national parks and food in­spec­tions, some Re­pub­li­cans are be­com­ing un­com­fort­able with Trump’s de­mands.

Law­mak­ers tried to re­as­sure fed­eral em­ploy­ees that Congress was aware of the fi­nan­cial hard­ship they are en­dur­ing. By a vote of 411-7, the House passed a bill re­quir­ing that all gov­ern­ment work­ers re­ceive retroac­tive pay after the par­tial shutdown ends. The Sen­ate ap­proved the bill unan­i­mously Thurs­day. The pres­i­dent is ex­pected to sign the leg­is­la­tion.

The par­tial shutdown would set a record early Satur­day, stretch­ing be­yond the 21-day clo­sure that ended Jan 6, 1996, dur­ing Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Trump vis­ited McAllen, Texas, and the Rio Grande on Thurs­day to high­light what he calls a cri­sis of drugs and crime along the bor­der. He sug­gested that if he can­not reach an agree­ment with House Democrats on fund­ing the bor­der wall, he would de­clare a national emer­gency.

But speak­ing to state and lo­cal lead­ers Fri­day, Trump said he wasn’t ready to do that just yet. He said law­mak­ers can also take that step, even though there’s no in­di­ca­tion they would.

The “easy solution is for me to call a national emer­gency … but I’m not go­ing to do it so fast,” Trump said.

By­pass­ing Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional con­trol of the na­tion’s purse strings would lead to cer­tain le­gal chal­lenges and bi­par­ti­san charges of ex­ec­u­tive over­reach. Trump said his lawyers had told him the ac­tion would with­stand le­gal scru­tiny “100 per­cent.”

The wall was the cen­tral prom­ise of Trump’s win­ning cam­paign in 2016. Sup­port­ers have tried to con­vince him that an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion is the best op­tion to end the shutdown and would give him po­lit­i­cal cover to re­open the gov­ern­ment with­out ap­pear­ing to be cav­ing on his pledge.

Se­nior aide Jared Kush­ner, who trav­eled with the pres­i­dent to Texas, is among those urg­ing cau­tion on the dec­la­ra­tion, ac­cord­ing to a per­son fa­mil­iar with Kush­ner’s think­ing but not au­tho­rized to pub­licly dis­cuss the issue.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence vis­ited the Washington head­quar­ters for U.S. Cus­toms and Bor­der Pro­tec­tion and pledged that the ad­min­is­tra­tion will keep fight­ing for the bor­der wall.

“Just as you fight ev­ery day to keep our na­tion safe, this pres­i­dent and this ad­min­is­tra­tion will keep fight­ing to build the wall and give you the re­sources and reforms you need to do your job,” Pence told sev­eral dozen un­formed agents. “That’s my prom­ise.”

Trump is grow­ing more frus­trated as the shutdown drags on and is com­plain­ing that his aides are not of­fer­ing him an exit strat­egy.

In the mean­time, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken steps to lay the ground­work should Trump issue the dec­la­ra­tion.

MICHAEL DWYER AP

Gov­ern­ment work­ers and their sup­port­ers hold signs dur­ing a protest Fri­day in Bos­ton, urg­ing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to put an end to the shutdown.

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