Trump tweets as shutdown sets record

Threat­ens again that stand­off could con­tinue in­def­i­nitely


WASHINGTON — As the par­tial gov­ern­ment shutdown slipped into the record books Satur­day as the long­est ever, mem­bers of Congress were out of town, no ne­go­ti­a­tions were sched­uled and Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump tweeted into the void.

He did not tip his hand on whether he will move ahead with an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion that could break the im­passe, free up money for his wall with­out con­gres­sional ap­proval and kick off le­gal chal­lenges and a po­lit­i­cal storm over the use of that ex­tra­or­di­nary step. A day ear­lier, he said he was not ready to do it “right now.”

Law­mak­ers are due back in Washington from their states and con­gres­sional dis- tricts in the new week.

Trump fired off a se­ries of tweets push­ing back against the no­tion that he doesn’t have a strat­egy to end what be­came the long­est gov­ern­ment shutdown in U. S. his­tory when it en­tered its 22nd day Satur­day. “Elections have con­se­quences!” he declared, mean­ing the 2016 elec­tion in which “I promised safety and se­cu­rity” and, as part of that, a bor­der wall.

But there was an­other elec­tion, in Novem­ber, and the con­se­quence of that is that Democrats now con­trol the House and they refuse to give Trump money for a wall.

Trump threat­ened anew that the shutdown could con­tinue in­def­i­nitely.

He says he will sign leg­is­la­tion that has been passed by Congress to pro­vide back pay for some 800,000 fed­eral work­ers who aren’t be­ing paid dur­ing the shutdown. Pay­checks were due Fri­day, but many work­ers re­ceived stubs with ze­roes.

Sec­re­tary of State Mike Pom­peo, trav­el­ing Satur­day in Abu Dhabi, claimed that morale is good among U. S. diplo­mats even as many work with­out pay.

“We’re do­ing our best to make sure it doesn’t im­pact our diplo­macy,” he said.

Al­most half of the State De­part­ment em­ploy­ees in the U. S. and about one- quar­ter abroad have been fur­loughed dur­ing the shutdown. With the ex­cep­tion of cer­tain lo­cal em­ploy­ees over­seas, the rest are work­ing with­out pay, like those tasked with sup­port­ing Pom­peo’s trip, which has thus far taken him to Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Bahrain, with ad­di­tional stops to come.

An emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion by Trump could break the stale­mate by let­ting him use ex­ist­ing, un­spent money to build the U. S.- Mex­ico bor­der wall, with­out need­ing con­gres­sional ap­proval. Democrats op­pose that step but may be un­able to stop it. Many Re­pub­li­cans are wary, too.

Nev­er­the­less, the ad­min­is­tra­tion has ac­cel­er­ated plan­ning for it. Of­fi­cials ex­plored di­vert­ing money from a range of ac­counts, in­clud­ing $ 13.9 bil­lion given to the Army Corps of En­gi­neers after last year’s deadly hur­ri­canes and floods. That op­tion ap­peared to lose steam fol­low­ing an out­cry.

Other pos­si­bil­i­ties in­cluded tap­ping as­set for­fei­ture funds, such as money seized from drug king­pins, ac­cord- ing to a con­gres­sional Repub­li­can not au­tho­rized to speak pub­licly about pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions.


Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump leads a round­table dis­cus­sion on bor­der se­cu­rity with lo­cal lead­ers Fri­day in the Cabi­net Room of the White House in Washington.

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