2019-01-07 00:00:00  WASHINGTON – As the partial government shutdown approaches a record length, President Donald Trump will visit the nation’s southern …

WASHINGTON – As the partial government shutdown approaches a record length, President Donald Trump will visit the nation’s southern border on Thursday to promote his wall plan, officials said Monday.

Trump will “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis” at the border, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders posted on Twitter. “More details will be announced soon.”

Trump, who first floated the idea of traveling to the border during a surprise visit to Iraq the day after Christmas, has been pressing lawmakers for $5.6 billion for the border wall. Funding for the wall is at the center of a partial government shutdown that entered its 17th day on Monday.

The shutdown record is 21 days, set during in 1995 and 1996. If it is still ongoing, the current partial shutdown would hit its 22nd day at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

As the White House announced Trump’s visit to the border, no resolution seemed in sight.

After a series of discussions over the weekend involving Vice President Mike Pence and administration and congressional staff members, there’s no evidence of any other meetings on Monday.

Trump traveled to San Diego in May to view prototypes of his proposed wall. Congress has approved additional money for border security in the past but has specifically prohibited any of it from being spent on new wall designs.

Democrats have said Trump and aides are exaggerating the numbers of migrants entering the country illegally to justify his stance on the wall.

“Trump shut down the government over a manufactured crisis at the border,” the Democratic National Committee said in a statement.

More: ‘The goal is not to open up the government’: Sen. Graham says no shutdown end without wall

More: President Trump could declare a national emergency. But would that get him funds for a wall?


2019-01-07 14:26:40  Making the click-through worthwhile: The federal government has been running for about three weeks on unpaid labor, and why that shouldn’t …

Making the click-through worthwhile: The federal government has been running for about three weeks on unpaid labor, and why that shouldn’t be mistaken for a government that’s functioning quite well; why the 2020 Democratic presidential primary will be better with Joe Biden in it; and Freedom Partners offers what it sees as a better way to get fairer trade conditions than tariffs.

The Federal Government Is ‘Functioning’ Because People Are Working Without Pay

You’re seeing some conservatives argue that the American government is functioning fine during the shutdown, demonstrating that the “nonessential” workers are genuinely unneeded and that this proves that there’s no real need to bring the shutdown to an end.

This is a pretty poorly informed reaction. Some of the most important duties of the federal government are continuing to function because hundreds of thousands of federal employees are working without pay and hoping that they get paid for their labor once the shutdown ends.

In a perfect irony for a government-shutdown fight about border security, right now almost 55,000 employees of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection are not being paid. They’re still out there, doing their duties, patrolling in dangerous situations. The president and Congress will probably pay them once this is over, although that’s not guaranteed. But how are they supposed to react when President Trump says the shutdown could last “months, even years”?

How long could you work without pay? How long would you work in a dangerous job without pay?

More than 16,000 U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees are working without pay. Some far-left Democrats wanted to “abolish ICE”; the government shutdown has, at least for now, abolished the agents’ paychecks.

More than 17,000 Citizenship and Immigration Services employees are working without pay. Nearly 6,000 employees of the U.S. Secret Service are working without pay. About 2,000 DHS employees who focus on cyber security are working without pay.

More than 15,000 employees of the Federal Emergency Management Agency are working without pay. Hope you’re not among the 40,000 Louisianans who need to renew their flood insurance but who can’t while the government is shut down.

Due to a last-minute deal, about 42,000 employees of the U.S. Coast Guard got one extra paycheck, but they will not get their next paycheck if the shutdown does not end soon.

About 55,000 Transportation and Security Administration employees, including the staff that work the security lines at airports, are not getting paid. More employees are “calling out sick,” but so far there have been no significant increases in delays.

Throughout the Department of Homeland Security, training of new employees is halted.

That’s just in the Department of Homeland Security. Over at the Department of Justice, right now, about 36,000 FBI employees, including about 13,000 special agents, are not being paid.

About 35,000 guards and employees of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are not getting paid.

Over at the Drug Enforcement Agency, about 7,600 employees working without pay; 4,600 in the U.S. Marshals Service, and about 4,200 at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.

Without Congressional appropriations, U.S. federal courts are operating on money generated by court fees — and they run out of money on Friday. After that, the courts have to sort out what operations are necessary for the protection of life and property and which ones aren’t, and cease any work that doesn’t make the cut.

All of the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are closed. Zookeepers are still taking care of the animals . . . without pay.

About 95 percent of NASA’s employees aren’t going to work — just the folks who have to show up and keep NASA people and property safe.

When government shutdowns occur, you usually see a lot of coverage of the National Park Service — because it’s an impact that’s easy to see, and just about everybody likes national parks and no one likes to see them closed. You’ve probably heard about the volunteers who are stepping in and picking up trash and cleaning the facilities, but the scale of the task is surpassing the abilities of the volunteers. The National Park Service now plans to use the entrance fees to pay for operations, which may technically be illegal.

Whether or not you like the Department of Housing and Urban Development, if we’re going to have public housing, we probably should have safety inspections. Those are suspended until further notice.

Some contract workers in federal buildings such as custodians and security officers are effectively laid off until the government reopens. Good luck with all of those bills left over from Christmas, everyone!

You hear the common joke: “If these workers are nonessential, why are they working in those jobs at all?” Besides all of the folks working without pay, like those FBI agents, border patrol officers, prison guards, etc. — what we’re witnessing right now is the federal government operating with a skeleton crew. Just about any institution can temporarily get by with the minimal staff, but after a while the duties pile up and become unmanageable — whether it’s a waitress trying to serve too many tables, supermarkets with one cash register open, or public bathrooms with only one stall working.

I suspect some people will interpret the above information as a demand that President Trump make concessions in negotiations, because I often find myself receiving criticism for arguments thatI never made. The grief and aggravation listed above seems like a high price to pay to prevent $5 billion in funding for “the wall,” or bollard fencing, or slats, or whatever we’re calling it this week. Because the federal government usually pays both those working without pay and those staying home, government shutdowns cost the taxpayers more than remaining open. Shutting down museums and national parks slows down the economy; nobody’s buying anything in the gift shops. Unpaid contractors don’t pay income taxes on wages they don’t receive.

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Steny Hoyer made a comment that hinted at some wiggle room.

CHUCK TODD: If it’s a steel fence and he doesn’t call it a wall, can you accept that? REP. STENY HOYER: Chuck, let me say: We’ve done fencing in the past, as you know. CHUCK TODD: So you’ll do it in the future, what you’re saying? REP. STENY HOYER: We’ve done fencing in the past. However, what is happening today, and hopefully the administration will come — the administration has not come up with any specific plan as to how they’re going to spend this money.

All Hoyer wants to see is a specific spending plan? That’s pretty far from Nancy Pelosi’s current argument that “A wall is an immorality between countries.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is in the final stages of deciding whether to run for president and has told allies he is skeptical the other Democrats eyeing the White House can defeat President Trump, an assessment that foreshadows a clash between the veteran Washington insider and the more liberal and fresh-faced contenders for the party’s 2020 nomination.

A Democratic primary with Joe Biden in it is better for the country (and for the values of conservatives) than one without him — and not just for entertainment value. The current mood among the Democratic grassroots is that Obama and his administration were too nice, too conciliatory, too respectful, too compromising, and too centrist, and that’s the main reason the previous administration failed to deliver nirvana.

As a candidate, Joe Biden would be the guy on stage explaining to all of these upstarts who have been in Washington for about 20 minutes that the Obama administration was more than sufficiently progressive and aggressive. (Everyone’s forgotten that “I won,” “I have a pen and a phone,” executive orders raising the minimum wage for federal workers and contractors, expanding DACA, and enormous amounts of regulations enacted by cabinet agencies, in an attempt to enact changes that the GOP Congress would not support.)

He would be a needed corrective, reminding the progressive activists most tuned in to the early debates that the Democratic party and the country as a whole are much more ideologically diverse than they wish, and that politics is the art of the possible. A lot of activists would hate him for telling them that, but they need to hear it anyway.

Hey, Why Would We Trash a Court that Agrees with Us Nine Times Out of Ten?

If you think enacting tariffs on foreign imports hurts American consumers, but that some other countries aren’t playing fair with the United States and are supporting their own industries, what’s the right solution? The gang at Freedom Partners unveils a video this morning that addresses that exact question, and begins, “The president has a point about other

nations imposing tariffs on American exports. You can see we are one of the most pro trade nations in the world. Meanwhile, a lot of countries impose more tariffs on us than we do on them.”

What do they recommend? Take our fights to the World Trade Organization, which is designed to fairly adjudicate these disputes.

“The United States wins about 90 percent of the complaints we file,” says Dan Mitchell, co-founder and chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. “The bottom line is the WTO largely serves U.S. interests. We should use it to our advantage, not attack it.”


Trump could declare an immigration emergency, but legally moving $5.6 billion toward wall construction appears to be the bigger challenge.

As the partial government shutdown enters its third week, the White House is exploring other options to secure funding for the construction of a barrier on the U.S.-Mexico border, including using the president’s emergency powers to circumvent Congress altogether.

“We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly,” President Donald Trump said Friday. “But if we can do it through a negotiated process, we are giving that a shot.”

The president repeated that assertion Sunday and acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said on CNN’s “State of the Union” that Trump had directed “every single Cabinet secretary and the Office of Management and Budget to go out and find money that can be used legally to guard the southern border.”

“Presidents have authority to defend the nation,” Mulvaney said, adding that he was personally involved in the hunt to find funds that could be steered toward a border wall.

More: The government shutdown is tied for third longest on record – with no end in sight

Start the day smarter: Get USA TODAY’s Daily Briefing in your inbox every morning.

So does the president have the authority to declare a national emergency and direct resources to the border?

“Trump can surely test whether he has the power to declare a national emergency for this purpose,” said Kim Lane Scheppele, a professor at Princeton University’s Center for Human Values. “The National Emergencies Act allows him to declare a state of emergency without approval from anyone else, but then he has to stay within congressionally delegated emergency powers after that.”

The 1976 National Emergencies Act was passed in the post-Watergate, post-Vietnam era to create more structured procedures for the president’s use of emergency powers.

Under that law, the president must cite the specific emergency powers he is activating under existing statutes. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are hundreds of “provisions of federal law delegating to the executive extraordinary authority in time of national emergency.”

“Under the powers delegated by such statutes, the President may seize property, organize and control the means of production, seize commodities, assign military forces abroad, institute martial law, seize and control all transportation and communication, regulate the operation of private enterprise, restrict travel, and, in a variety of ways, control the lives of United States citizens,” says a 2007 CRS report.

Congress can terminate a declared emergency, but it requires a joint resolution – a high hurdle. House Democrats, now in power, would have to convince Senate Republicans, who still control their chamber, to join them in blocking Trump’s move. Then they would have to get a signature from the president, the same person who declared the emergency in the first place, or override his veto.

“So the question on the border wall is: Is there any emergency power stashed somewhere in an already-existing law that could be stretched to include the movement of funds appropriated for one purpose to be used for another?” Scheppele told USA TODAY.

With the partial U.S. federal government shutdown lurching into a third week, the White House’s Director of Strategic Communications is urging affected workers to call Democrats. (Jan. 7) AP

The president can declare an “immigration emergency” under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

An immigration emergency is defined as an “influx of aliens which either is of such magnitude or exhibits such other characteristics that effective administration of the immigration laws of the United States is beyond the existing capabilities” of immigration authorities “in the affected area or areas.”

Other factors that determine if an immigration emergency exists include “the likelihood of continued growth in the magnitude of the influx,” an “apparent connection between the influx and increases in criminal activity, high “demands on law enforcement agencies” and “other circumstances” that are defined by the attorney general.

Under the law, the attorney general or head of a local government must submit a request to the president describing the immigration emergency and what is needed to address it. The president then determines if an emergency exists and informs the House and Senate Judiciary committees.

An Immigration Emergency Fund exists for that purpose, but the law only approves $20 million annually for the fund, far short of the $5.6 billion Trump is seeking.

Another option that could potentially secure a larger chunk of funding for a border barrier would be under military law, which says the secretary of Defense can undertake construction projects during a national emergency without authorization. The law says those projects must be “necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

The law also permits the Army’s civil works program to build structures necessary for the national defense after the president declares an emergency. The secretary of Defense may also reprogram money that had been set aside for military construction projects.

A third statute under military law allows for the construction of emergency projects if the secretary of Defense determines it “is vital to the national security or to the protection of health, safety, or the quality of the environment,” but that authority is capped at $50,000 a year.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., called Trump’s invocation of his emergency powers “really threatening talk” that “he doesn’t have the power to execute.”

“If Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multibillion-dollar wall on the border,” Schiff told CNN.

But Truman did seize the steel mills in 1952, only to be blocked by the Supreme Court. Another Democrat, Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, said Trump did have the authority to declare the national emergency but, like Truman, he would face legal challenges.

“There is a provision in law that says the president can declare an emergency.  It’s been done a number of times,” Smith told ABC’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos. “In this case, I think the president would be wide open to a court challenge saying, where is the emergency? You have to establish that in order to do this.”

2019-01-07 02:30:24  South Carolina politician James Clyburn, the U.S. House Majority Whip, says President Donald Trump is making Americans hostages over his …

One South Carolina politician is not holding back when it comes to the government shutdown, President Donald Trump and Republican leadership in the U.S. Senate.

U.S. representative James Clyburn, the new House Majority Whip, released a statement Sunday criticizing the president and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, saying Trump is holding Americans “hostage.”

In his statement, the Democrat from Columbia said the House of Representatives plans to vote on “bills to reopen vital government services,” to allow federal employees to return to work.

He then put the onus on McConnell, R-Kentucky, saying in the statement it is “unconscionable,” to block votes on the “bills to reopen the government.”

“Not only are 800,000 federal employees’ livelihood in the balance, millions of Americans are suffering the consequences of this Trump Shutdown,” Clyburn said in his statement.

Clyburn pointed out the shutdown will have a reach that affects more than government employees.

Small business owners will not be able to get loans, food stamps will not be available and all those expecting income tax returns from the IRS will be left waiting, “unless the Senate, a co-equal branch of government elected by the people to serve the people, steps up and does its job,” Clyburn said in the statement.

After putting the Senate on notice, Clyburn put the president in his cross-hairs.

“The American people ought not be the president’s hostages over his ill-advised and ill-defined border wall. He is demonstrating with every day that passes that he is ill-equipped to negotiate his way out of this self-imposed crisis, and the American people are paying the price over his inability to govern,” Clyburn said in the statement. “It is time for the Senate to do its part to reopen the government and tell this president that enough is enough.”

This is not the first time Clyburn has been critical of Trump. After Democrats retook the House following the November 2018 elections, Clyburn wrote he would “oppose the President when he is wrong,” The State reported.

During a statement at a Congressional Black Caucus press conference, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina revealed advice that he gave his 21-year-old grandson about what to do if police pull him over for a traffic violation. Clyburn said he told hi

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged on Sunday not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern…

WASHINGTON, Jan 6 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump pledged on Sunday not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern border with Mexico but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

Trump’s comments came at the start of the third week of a partial government shutdown resulting from the dispute that has left hundreds of thousands of federal workers idled or without paychecks.

Trump threatened again, without providing specifics on where the funding would originate, to declare a national emergency as an alternative way to build the wall, depending on the outcome of talks in the coming days.

Democrats have declined to approve the $5.6 billion Trump wants to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise to curb illegal immigration. Led by new Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democrats passed a bill in the House of Representatives last week to reopen the government without wall funding. Pelosi has called a border wall immoral.

“This is a very important battle to win from the standpoint of safety, number one, (and) defining our country and who we are,” Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving for a short trip to the Camp David presidential retreat.

“The barrier, or the wall, can be of steel instead of concrete, if that helps people. It may be better,” he said.

The White House painted that offer, which Trump floated previously, as an olive branch.

In a letter sent to congressional leaders on Sunday, the Trump administration included a request for an additional $800 million to address urgent humanitarian needs and unaccompanied migrant children, the Washington Post reported.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s acting chief of staff, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that agreeing to a steel barrier would allow Democrats to stick to their refusal to fund a wall.

“That should help us move in the right direction,” he said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer did not show his hand when asked whether the White House offer to move away from a concrete structure was evidence of compromise.

“It’ll be discussed,” he said on NBC.

Vice President Mike Pence led a second round of talks with congressional aides on Sunday about the issue, but Trump said he did not expect those talks to produce results, noting that the principals – himself, Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – were the ones who could solve it quickly.

“If we don’t find a solution, it’s going to go on for a long time. There’s not going to be any bend right here,” Trump said.

He later tweeted that the Pence talks were productive. But a Democratic aide familiar with the meeting said Democrats urged the White House to pass measures to reopen the government without wall funding and Pence said Trump would not do that. The aide said no progress was made and no further meetings of the group were scheduled.

Democrats could demand other concessions from the White House, such as protections for immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children, known as Dreamers, or changes to other spending provisions. Trump said he wanted to help on the Dreamer issue but preferred to wait for a Supreme Court ruling on it first.

Democratic U.S. Senator Dick Durbin reacted coolly to Trump’s suggestion of declaring a national emergency. “I don’t know what he’s basing this on, but he’s faced so many lawsuits when he ignores the law and ignores tradition and precedent,” Durbin said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Large chunks of the federal government were shut down on Dec. 22 after lawmakers and the president hit an impasse over Trump’s demand that a bill to keep the federal government operational include money to help build a $23 billion wall along the U.S. border with Mexico. About 800,000 government workers are either furloughed or working without pay.

“I can relate,” Trump, a former New York businessman, said when asked if he could relate to the pain of federal workers struggling to pay their bills. “I’m sure that the people that are on the receiving end will make adjustments.” Asked if workers would get paid on Friday, Trump said: “We’ll see whether or not it’s settled.”

Not all Republicans agree with Trump’s insistence on keeping government agencies shuttered until the border debate is resolved.

“It is not a sign of weakness to try to figure out a middle ground, and I think that both sides need to indicate a willingness to listen and to compromise, U.S. Senator Susan Collins of Maine said on NBC. She called the debate over using steel versus concrete “bizarre.”

House Democrats plan to pass a series of bills this week to reopen government, breaking up legislation they have already approved in a bid to get Republicans to agree to reopen certain agencies, Hoyer said on “Meet the Press.”

“We need to open up government and then negotiate. Not the other way around,” he said.

As 800,000 federal employees enter another week without paychecks, any solution to the country’s budget impasse has appeal. But the solution is not the one President Donald Trump has been floating in recent days: that he would invoke emergency powers and build a wall between the United States and Mexico without congressional approval. Doing so would constitute an unconstitutional and dangerous expansion of presidential power.

Thankfully, the United States Constitution does not give the president emergency powers, and it has no clause that allows the president to suspend the Constitution when he perceives an emergency. Quite the contrary, the Constitution was deliberately written to keep government officials from claiming dictatorial powers in the name of national security or emergency management. The Constitution is clear that Congress controls the power of the purse and must approve the spending of all federal money. No exception to this is mentioned in the Constitution or ever has been recognized by the courts.

Trump is not the first president to try to claim emergency powers. During the Korean War, President Harry Truman ordered the seizure of steel mills when a labor dispute threatened to close them. Truman argued that national security and the war effort depended on continued steel production. But In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. vs. Sawyer, in 1952, the Supreme Court ruled against Truman, concluding the president had no authority under the Constitution or federal laws to do this even in a wartime emergency.

In a separate opinion, Justice William O. Douglas explained that seizing the steel mills would require that Congress appropriate funds to pay for the taking of private property, and the president cannot take over the spending power, which belongs to Congress, in this way. Both Justice Robert Jackson and Justice Felix Frankfurter, in their separate opinions, stressed that Congress had considered giving the president this power but did not do so.

This is directly relevant today, since Congress for the last two years has considered and rejected funding for Trump’s wall.

The president is likely claiming authority to fund building the wall under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, but that law actually was meant to limit the ability of the president to claim powers by declaring a national emergency. One provision says that if there is a national emergency, funds in the Defense Department budget that are not “obligated” can be used for construction projects to support the armed forces. It says: “Secretary of Defense, without regard to any other provision of law, may undertake military construction projects, and may authorize Secretaries of the military departments to undertake military construction projects, not otherwise authorized by law that are necessary to support such use of the armed forces.”

The clear purpose of this was to ensure adequate space for military mobilization in the case of an emergency requiring a large number of troops. It is hard to imagine a court finding that there is an emergency within the meaning of the statute in this situation where nothing has changed. This is about Trump wanting to carry out a campaign promise, not an emergency that has suddenly arisen. Moreover, the statute is about construction projects to support the armed forces. Trump’s wall is not about that at all.

Any attempt by Trump to build the wall without congressional approval would be a grave threat to separation of powers. Under the Constitution, every major action of the federal government generally should involve two branches of government. Enacting a law, including adopting a budget, requires Congress passing a bill and the president signing it, or Congress overriding a veto. Going to war requires Congress declaring war and the president, as commander-in-chief, waging it. Enforcing a federal law requires that the executive branch bring a prosecution and the judiciary convict.

No Supreme Court decision in U.S. history ever has approved the ability of the president to circumvent these checks and balances by spending a large amount of money without congressional approval. That would be a dangerous precedent and one inconsistent with a Constitution founded on the idea of checks and balances.

Throughout his time in office, President Trump has chafed at the limits the Constitution imposes upon him, as have other presidents occasionally before him. That is a key reason, let’s remember, that the nation’s founders wrote the document: to set out clearly the limitations of a president’s power. Once again, more than 200 years after it was written, the Constitution is again serving Americans well in preserving checks and balances.