$1*/ mo hosting! Everything you need to succeed online with us!

Trump to Sign Back Pay for Workers as Shutdown Persists

U.S. President Donald Trump is scheduled to sign a bill Wednesday that would guarantee federal workers will eventually be paid for the duration of the ongoing partial government shutdown, but when those paychecks may come is still a mystery as he and Democrats remain far from resolving the crisis.

Some 800,000 government employees have either been working without being paid or told to stay home since December 22. If the shutdown lasts another week, they will miss a second paycheck this year. Meanwhile, the Trump administration said Tuesday it has called tens of thousands of federal employees back to work without pay to process tax refunds, maintain flight safety, inspect food and drug supplies and other vital tasks to soften the impact of the shutdown. 

Financial companies have put in place programs to help those workers deal with a sudden loss in income, while a number of restaurants are giving away meals to federal workers.

The charity World Central Kitchen, which is known for its work feeding people in disaster zones such as Puerto Rico after a hurricane devastated the U.S. territory in 2017, is opening a popup stand Wednesday in Washington to feed federal employees. 

The site is on Pennsylvania Avenue, about halfway between the Capitol and the White House, and the group’s founder, chef José Andrés, said the location is symbolic of the need for Americans to come together.

“We’re going to be open for any federal family that needs food. We will have food for you to eat or food to take home. But also I hope it will be a call to action for our senators and congressman and especially President Trump to make sure that we end this moment in the history of America where families are about to go hungry,” Andrés said in a Twitter video announcing the project.

The shutdown goes on as Trump remains committed to getting congressional approval for $5.7 billion to fund his desired wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. Democratic leaders have offered $1.3 billion for other border security efforts, saying adding more border patrol agents and technology upgrades would be more efficient and effective.

The Democrats want Trump and their Republican colleagues to agree to reopen the closed government agencies before the two sides continue the debate over what to do at the border, but so far Republicans have shown no interest in that path.

Trump invited rank-and-file Democrats for a lunch meeting Tuesday at the White House to discuss the situation, but none accepted. The White House schedule for Wednesday shows Trump having a meeting with a bipartisan group of members from the House of Representatives who call themselves the Problem Solvers Caucus.

In addition to federal workers not receiving paychecks, the effects of the shutdown are being felt in a number of ways throughout the country.

Some airport security screeners have not been showing up for work, leading to longer lines at airports. Some inspectors from the Food and Drug Administration are not conducting their usual checks to make sure food products are safe. A number of national parks and museums are closed, and the federal court system is warning it will soon run out of operating funds.

​The Internal Revenue Service is also calling 46,000 previously furloughed workers back to their offices so they can process income tax returns. The Trump administration has promised the shutdown would not affect tax refunds that many people are expecting.

While Trump and Democratic leaders blame each other for the situation dragging on, a number of recent polls have put more of the responsibility on the president.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released Tuesday indicated 51 percent of respondents blame Trump and 34 percent blame congressional Democrats. In the same poll, 62 percent of people said they support adding more border patrol agents, and there was a roughly even split of 43 percent of people both supporting and opposing additional fencing at the border.

The Senate and House were both due to be on recess next week with members going back to their home districts, but leaders in both chambers have said that break will be canceled if the shutdown is still in effect. That outcome seems likely.

“We’re going to stay our for a long time, if we have to,” Trump told supporters in a conference call Tuesday.

In Congress, the House has passed several bills that would follow Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to reopen the government for now and debate the border later, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will not bring up any legislation that Trump would not support.

McConnell on Tuesday called on Senate Democrats to make “an important choice.”

“They could stand with common sense, with border experts, with federal workers, and with their own past voting records by the way, or they could continue to remain passive spectators complaining from the sidelines as the speaker refuses to negotiate with the White House,” McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Trump should “see the pain” the shutdown is causing.

​”He’d benefit from listening to the stories of federal civil servants who were working without pay, locked out of their jobs, maybe then President Trump will understand the damage he’s causing by holding these people hostage until he gets what he wants. Meanwhile, Leader McConnell, Senate Republicans are hiding in the shadows as if they have some kind of aversion to doing their job when it involves the slightest break with the president,” Schumer said.

While leaders have been more prominent faces of the divide, there is no shortage of lawmakers on both sides advocating for something to change.

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans aren’t getting paid because the president won’t give up his vanity project,” said Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris. “They’re forgoing insulin, borrowing money, or selling their cars — just to stay afloat. Let’s vote to reopen the government.”

​Republican Rep. Mark Meadows said all members of Congress should remain in Washington without pay until they agree on border wall funding.

“No excuses. If Democrats are ready to take border security seriously, there’s a compromise to be had,” Meadows said.

Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos accused McConnell and Trump of holding the House-passed spending bills “hostage to score political points.”

“By prolonging this shutdown and rejecting bill after bill to fund our government, the president is making us less safe by not paying for our border patrol and TSA agents,” Bustos said.

Republican Rep. Paul Gosar faulted the Democrats who did not agree to Tuesday’s White House meeting.

“Each day they refuse to find a solution — thousands are put in danger. I encourage my Dem colleagues to join Republicans in putting American priorities first,” Gosar said.

​Meanwhile, Trump called attention to the latest group of Central American migrants who are traveling in hopes of reaching the United States, citing them as evidence of the need for a border wall.

The group of several hundred people left from Honduras and made it into Guatemala on Tuesday.

About 6,000 migrants traveled to Tijuana, Mexico late last year after traveling from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. Many said they left home because of poverty and fears over gang violence. Some are trying to seek asylum in the United States, while other accepted humanitarian visas in Mexico and others returned home.

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has called on the United States to be part of a group of nations working to solve the underlying reasons people are leaving their countries.

Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have been working on the issue since reaching a cooperation agreement in December and representatives met again Tuesday with a focus on addressing four parts of the migration cycle — origin, transit, destination and return, with an emphasis on the protection of human rights for the migrants.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

When Mom’s Paychecks Stop, Kid Starts New Business

When Bella Berrellez learned her mother was furloughed, she looked for ways help the family.

Political bickering in Washington means Bella’s mom and hundreds of thousands of other U.S. federal employees won’t get paid until the dispute is resolved. Some federal workers have been sent home, while others work without pay.

Entrepreneur Bella, 11, created homemade body scrubs with various scents and sold them for $7 each to neighbors and online communities. In just two weeks, she has sold more than 400 jars.

“Some of them are from the area. Some are from all over the world. And some are from different parts of the country,” she said of her customers.

Many of them, including 16-year-old Lataija Bonner, are buying the products to show their support during the government shutdown.

“I send kudos to her, because I know a few young kids that are doing what she’s doing, and I’m really proud of her because I know me being 16 and Bella just turned 11 or 12, I know I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Bonner said. “I probably would have been like, ‘Oh sorry Mom. Sorry Dad.’ Like, I don’t know what to do.”

​Bella’s mother works for the Food and Drug Administration and is currently furloughed. She is among the 800,000 federal workers who missed a paycheck on Jan. 11.

“My family is OK, and now I felt really, really happy and really good,” Bella said. “And now I’m putting my money back into the business and also donating my money to Nourish Now.”

Nourish Now is a nonprofit organization that collects food from donors like restaurants and cafeterias and distributes it to families in need. The organization also accepts financial contributions from the community.

“It’s amazing to see people from all ages, especially as young as Bella, trying to step forward and help her family out,” said David Joffee, chief program officer at Nourish Now. “It’s just admirable what she is doing. And as you can see in social media and the news, there are so many businesses and organizations out there that are willing to lend a hand. It’s great to see community members of different ages, types, sizes, etc., are willing to do this. It’s a really nice effort that we’ve seen so far.”

Recently, the organization set up a dinner for hundreds of people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area impacted by the shutdown.

And Bella says she is happy that her effort is helping her family and others.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Nominee for US Attorney General Vows to Protect Russia Probe

William Barr, who was nominated by U.S. President Donald Trump to be the next attorney general says Russia is a “potent rival of our country,” but not as dangerous as China. Barr was questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday at the first of his confirmation hearings. He said Russia is less powerful than it was during the Cold War, but its president, Vladimir Putin, is working to increase Moscow’s influence in the world. VOA’s Zlatica Hoke has more.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

West Virginia: Proposal to Give $10 Million for Trump’s Border Wall

Some lawmakers in drug-ravaged West Virginia want to pitch in millions of dollars for President Donald Trump’s wall-building effort along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The GOP-led House of Delegates issued a statement Monday that a bill planned by three delegates would divert $10 million from West Virginia’s current $186 million budget surplus for wall construction.

Trump is seeking $5.7 billion overall to fund construction of a wall along about 235 miles (375 kilometers) of the border, and the federal government has been partially shut down as Trump and Democratic lawmakers are at an impasse over his request. The suggested offer from West Virginia would pay a tiny fraction of the cost.

$8 million from Montana?

Last week a Republican lawmaker in Montana proposed giving more than $8 million for the wall, while senators in South Dakota senators voted to urge construction of a steel barrier.

The sponsors in West Virginia are Delegates Carl “Robbie” Martin, R-Upshur; Patrick Martin, R-Lewis; and Caleb Hanna, R-Webster. Robbie and Patrick Martin are brothers.  

West Virginia has by far the highest rate of U.S. drug overdose deaths. The three lawmakers said on a conference call Tuesday the $10 million would help stem the flow of drugs from Mexico into West Virginia.

“Our constituents are crying out, saying that they need help with this drug problem,” Patrick Martin said. “West Virginians want this wall. I believe that they want border security.”

Ports of entry

Drug trafficking is concentrated at land ports of entry, not remote stretches of the border, according to a 2018 report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The most common trafficking technique by transnational criminal organizations is to hide drugs in passenger vehicles or tractor-trailers as they drive into the U.S. though entry ports, where they are stopped and subject to inspection. They also employ buses, cargo trains and tunnels, the report says, citing other smuggling methods that also would not be choked off by a border wall.

The DEA found that most of the heroin sold in the U.S. is being trafficked from Mexico, but the agency has said China is a main source of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids that have been flooding the U.S. market. China has pushed back against the characterization.

The DEA’s report also noted a drop in the number of U.S. methamphetamine labs is being filled by Mexican and Latin American drug cartels.

Republican House Speaker Roger Hanshaw didn’t immediately return a telephone message seeking comment on the chances of the proposal’s passage.

‘Political stunt’

West Virginia Democratic Party chairwoman Belinda Biafore called the proposal a “political stunt” and “sickening” because the money should be used for other pressing needs in the state.

Trump carried West Virginia by 42 percent points in the 2016 election, and 63 percent of state voters who cast midterm ballots approve of his job handling as president.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Court Blocks Citizenship Question on US Census   

A federal judge has blocked the Commerce Department from including a question about U.S. citizenship on the 2020 census.

To plaintiffs in the case — a sizable coalition of states, cities and advocates — the question seemed aimed at turning the official population survey into a tool to advance Trump administration policies by discouraging immigrants from participating. 

In Tuesday’s ruling, which came after a two-week trial in New York, U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said that the decision to add the citizenship question was made before data was collected to show that a change in policy was necessary.

In his 277-page ruling, Furman wrote that the decision was “pretextual” and thus violated a federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). 

Furman said the APA requires federal agencies to study an issue before changing policies, and the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, “violated the public trust.”

Documented noncitizens

About 11 million people who live in the U.S. are undocumented, but there are also about 13 million documented noncitizens who might fear responding to the census questionnaire if citizenship is included. 

“Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of people will go uncounted in the census if the citizenship question is included,” Furman said.

The U.S. census is taken every 10 years and is next scheduled for 2020. It plays a critical role in U.S. politics since the apportionment of House of Representative seats is based on population figures derived from the census and also disbursement of millions in federal funds. In addition, decisions from the location of businesses to the makeup of state and local districts are based on the census. 

Plaintiffs argued that noncitizens tend to live in places that disproportionately vote Democratic, so an undercount would likely shift political power and federal spending to Republican areas.

Furman’s ruling is only the opening salvo on the citizenship question. The Supreme Court has already agreed to hear an aspect of the case in February, hoping to rule before the Census Bureau has to print its questionnaire. In addition, the government is expected to quickly appeal Furman’s ruling.

Reasoned explanation

The U.S. government fought hard to keep the citizenship question out of court. When that failed, government lawyers argued that how Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross reached his decision on the citizenship question was “immaterial.”

“All the secretary is required to do is to provide a reasoned explanation,” Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brett A. Shumate told the court. “He doesn’t have to choose the best option.”

Ross has said that he decided to add citizenship to the census in response to a request from the Justice Department, which said that census data on citizenship would help it better enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Citizenship was on the questionnaire in censuses before 1960 and is still part of the American Community Survey, which samples about 2.6 percent of the population each year, in order to help local officials and businesses understand what is going on in their communities.

‘Forceful rebuke’

But last January, the Census Bureau itself recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.

“This victory in our case is a forceful rebuke of the administration’s attempts to weaponize the census to attack immigrants and communities of color,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement about the case.

Along with the ACLU, plaintiffs included 18 states, the District of Columbia, several cities and some immigrant rights groups.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Mueller Not Ready for Trump Aide’s Sentencing, Filing Says

Former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates will have to wait at least another two months for his sentencing date in the Russia investigation.

That’s according to a new court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team. Prosecutors say they’re not ready for Gates’ sentencing because he is continuing to cooperate with “several” ongoing investigations.

Aside from the Russia probe, Gates is involved in probes of foreign lobbying and reportedly of Trump’s inaugural committee. It’s unclear if the delay is an indication of Mueller’s Russia probe timeline or a reflection of the status of the other investigations.

Gates pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy and false statement charges related to Ukrainian lobbying and political consulting. Mueller’s team is asking for another 60 days to update the judge in his case.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

 A Look at the History and Importance of Congress’ Power to Investigate

When Democratic lawmakers won the majority in the House of Representatives in recent elections, they not only won the ability to better shape legislation in the House, they also gained the enormous power of investigation. Investigations have always been an important way for Congress members to hold government officials accountable, to inform public policy and to spur national debate. 

House Democrats have promised to hold investigations on a range of topics, including the activities of President Donald Trump and his staff. Here is a look at the history and importance of Congress’ power to investigate matters.  

Why does Congress have the ability to investigate?

The U.S. Constitution says Congress will hold “all legislative powers” of government. While the Constitution does not explicitly grant Congress the right to carry out investigations, the founding fathers envisioned lawmakers investigating matters as part of their responsibility to legislate and courts have long upheld that role.

According to a website run by the Senate Historical Office, George Mason of Virginia said at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that members of Congress “are not only Legislators but they possess inquisitorial powers. They must meet frequently to inspect the Conduct of the public offices.”

Congressional investigations date back to 1792 when the House passed a resolution to examine the St. Clair expedition, according to the Senate Historical Office. General Arthur St. Clair led U.S. soldiers to their defeat in a 1791 battle against Native American fighters in what is now Ohio, prompting President George Washington to demand his resignation and for Congress to start an investigation.

What can Congress investigate?

Congress is able to investigate anything that pertains to legislative matters.

“Hearings are most commonly held for three reasons: to consider pending legislation; to investigate issues that may require legislation in the future; and, to investigate and oversee federal programs,” according to a website run jointly by the Clerk of the House’s Office and the State Department’s Office of the Historian. 

Investigations also serve an important function to oversee the judicial and executive branches, including probing possible presidential wrongdoing, and in rare cases laying the groundwork for impeachment proceedings. 

In its more than 200 years, Congress has investigated a huge range of topics including the sinking of theTitanic, organized crime, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, which was instrumental in bringing about the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

“Today congressional oversight enables House and Senate members to serve as the eyes and ears of the American public,” according to the Senate Historical Office. 

The Supreme Court has ruled that one thing Congress cannot investigate is the private affairs of individual citizens. 

Who carries out the investigations?

Both the House and Senate can hold investigations, which are usually carried out by one of the many committees by which the houses of Congress are organized. Lawmakers can also set up joint committees composed of members of both houses of Congress as well as create special committees, which are set up for a specific purpose. 

What resources do Congressional committees have for investigations?

Members of Congress generally have more ability to research topics than the average citizen. Lawmakers typically have access to government information, including, in some cases, classified material. They also have a trained staff that has the time and ability to research issues. 

Additionally, Congressional committees have the ability to compel witnesses to testify before lawmakers. In 1927, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress could hold witnesses in contempt if they failed to testify when subpoenaed. 

In a ruling two years later, the high court said that witnesses who lie before a congressional committee can be convicted of perjury. Congressional committee members can also call on outside experts to testify before investigative hearings and to help make a more detailed study of the issues. 

What is the impact of Congressional investigations?

Congressional investigations are not just a means to get information that is important to lawmakers. They are also a way to inform the public about various topics and to shape the political narrative. Most committee hearings are open to the public and are widely reported in the media. 

While investigations generally function to enable lawmakers to make better policy decisions, they are also an integral part of the U.S. government’s system of checks and balances. By design, lawmakers have a responsibility to bring to light abuses by the others branches of government, including those carried out by the president, cabinet members, and judges.

Challenges to the success of Congressional investigations include the appearance of partisanship, which can taint the results in the public eye. Sam Ervin, the chairman of the Senate Watergate Committee, which was set up to investigate the Watergate scandal in 1972, warned that for an investigation to be successful, it must avoid partisan politics. 

He said investigations “can be the catalyst that spurs Congress and the public to support vital reforms in our nation’s laws,” but said they may also “afford a platform for demagogues and the rankest partisans.” 

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

A Look at Upcoming Investigations by House Committees

When Democratic lawmakers took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in early January, they promised to launch multiple investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration, his 2016 campaign, and his family’s businesses.

Here is a summary of what the committees are planning to begin investigating.

Committee: House Intelligence

Chairman: Adam Schiff

Russia inquiry — Wants the phone records of the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., to find out whom he called while arranging a June 2016 meeting between a Russian lawyer and members of the Trump campaign.

Russia inquiry — Wants financial records relating to Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, as well as information on loans from Deutsche Bank to the Trump Organization.

​Committee: Financial Services

Chairwoman: Maxine Waters 

Russia inquiry — Along with the Intelligence Committee, plans to seek financial records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to the Trump Organization. The bank was accused in an unrelated case of laundering Russian money.

Committee: Foreign Affairs

Chairman: Eliot Engel 

Trump — Engel says his first act as chairman will be to create a new subcommittee devoted entirely to investigating President Trump.

Russia inquiry — Wants to find out what Trump said to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their private meeting last summer in Helsinki, Finland.

Russia inquiry — Plans to look at how Trump’s foreign business deals have impacted the Trump administration’s foreign policy, a similar line of inquiry to the Intelligence Committee and House Financial Services Committee.

North Korea — Wants to investigate Trump’s relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Saudi Arabia — Will look into the killing of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the Trump family’s ties with the Saudi crown prince.

Syria — Wants answers as to why Trump abruptly announced in December the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria, an action that led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

​Committee: House Judiciary

Chairman: Jerrold Nadler

Russia inquiry —Nadler says he will wait for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to conclude before considering any possible impeachment inquiry over the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

Immigration policies — Will investigate the recent deaths of two migrant children held in U.S. custody.

Justice Department — Wants to subpoena acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker on his involvement in Trump’s decision to fire former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Trump payments — Will look into Trump’s involvement in payments before the election to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, a possible campaign finance violation.

Committee: Ways and Means

Chairman: Richard Neal 

Trump taxes — Will seek to build a public case for why Trump’s tax returns should become public, and could later lodge a formal request for the returns to be released to the committee.

​Committee: Oversight and Reform

Chairman: Elijah Cummings

Ivanka Trump — Will investigate the use by the president’s daughter of a private email account for government business.

2020 Census — Wants to look into Democratic allegations that the Trump administration is manipulating the 2020 Census for political gain.

Hurricanes — Plans to look at how the Trump administration responded to hurricanes Irma and Maria, which hit Caribbean islands and Puerto Rico in 2017.

Cabinet officials — Will look into Cabinet officials’ use of government jets for personal travels, as well as alleged misconduct by former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt.

Flint water crisis — Will investigate the Trump administration’s response to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, in which a change in the water treatment caused water pipes to leach lead into the drinking supply.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Investigation Topics Planned by House Democrats

When the Democrats took control of the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month, the new committee chairs said they would use their role of oversight to begin investigating the controversies and scandals regarding President Donald Trump’s businesses, campaign and administration.

Russia inquiry

*At least four House committees plan to look into aspects of the Russian election interference investigation — Intelligence, Financial Services, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary. However, none plan to reopen a full-scale investigation, since Democratic officials say special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe is already doing that. House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler says he will wait for Mueller to conclude his investigation before considering any possible impeachment inquiry.

The lines of questioning by the committees reflect their particular purview. For example, the Foreign Affairs Committee will look into what Trump said to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their private meeting last summer in Helsinki, Finland, while the Financial Services Committee plans to seek financial records relating to hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from Deutsche Bank to the Trump Organization.

​Trump’s taxes

* Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal says he wants to try to build a public case for why Trump’s tax returns should become public before he makes any formal request for the returns to be released. He says he will hold hearings on the matter and will propose legislation that would require all presidents and candidates for the office to make their returns public. If Neal does request the tax returns from the Treasury Department, he has the authority under the tax code to be granted them as chairman of a House committee, however it is not clear if the Trump administration would challenge the matter.

Immigration policies

* Top Democrats have made clear they want to investigate the Trump administration’s immigration policies, with several committees planning to look into the matter of family separations and detentions at the border.

* The House Judiciary Committee plans to investigate the recent deaths of two migrant children held in detention — Jakelin Caal, 7, and Felipe Gomez Alonzo, 8. Three committees have ordered U.S. Customs and Border Protection to preserve evidence related to their deaths.

​Foreign issues

* In addition to Russia, the Foreign Affairs Committee plans to investigate issues involving several countries, including North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Syria. The committee plans to look at Trump’s relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as well as his family’s close ties with the Saudi crown prince.

* It also wants answers to why Trump abruptly announced in December the withdrawal of 2,000 U.S. forces from Syria, which led to the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis.

* The new chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, says he plans to create an entire subcommittee devoted to investigating Trump.

Domestic issues

* The House Judiciary Committee wants to look into Trump’s decision to fire former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and what his acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker knew about the decision.

* It also wants to investigate Trump’s involvement in payments before his 2016 election to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump, a possible campaign finance violation.

* The Oversight and Reform committee will look at a host of other domestic issues, including the use by Trump daughter Ivanka Trump of a private email account for government business, the Trump administration’s response to hurricanes Irma and Maria, and some Trump Cabinet officials’ use of government jets for personal travels.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

Trump, Democrats Remain at Odds over Border Wall

The partial U.S. government shutdown hit its 24th day Monday, but there was no end in sight as President Donald Trump and opposition Democrats remain locked in a stalemate over his demand for money to build a barrier along the U.S.-Mexican border that they oppose.

“I’ve been waiting all weekend,” Trump said on Twitter. “Democrats must get to work now. Border must be secured!”

The U.S. leader contended that the top congressional Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, “can end the Shutdown in 15 minutes.”

“At this point it has become their, and the Democrats, fault!” he tweeted, although Trump said a month ago that he would proudly “own” the shutdown in a fight over border security.

Congress returns to business Monday, although Trump ridiculed 30 Democratic lawmakers for flying over the weekend to Puerto Rico, the sunny U.S. island territory in the Caribbean, for a charity performance of the hit Broadway show “Hamilton,” while he remained in snowy Washington.

Late Sunday, Trump, in one of a string of tweets, quoted an editorial by conservative commentator Pat Buchanan saying, “The Trump portrait of an unsustainable Border Crisis is dead on,” and contending that if the border is not defended “the United States, as we have known it, is going to cease to exist.”

Trump finished with his own comment: “The great people of our Country demand proper Border Security NOW!

Earlier Sunday, one of Trump’s closest allies in the U.S. Senate urged him to at least temporarily reopen the quarter of federal government operations that have been shuttered since Dec. 22 and negotiate with Democrats.

South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham told Fox News Sunday he would still support a presidential emergency declaration to build the border wall without congressional authorization after giving talks another chance.

“I would urge him to open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks, before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal. If we can’t at the end of three weeks, all bets are off,” Graham said.

Graham echoed Trump by blaming the three-week long government shutdown on Democrats — specifically Pelosi, who joked she would give Trump money for a border wall — $1.

“How do you negotiate with the speaker of the House when she tells you even if you open up the government, we are not going to give you but $1 for the wall? So until that changes, there’s not much left except the national emergency approach,” Graham said.

Declaring a national emergency along the U.S.-Mexican border would allow Trump to spend the $5 billion he wants for a wall without congressional approval — a move Democrats would immediately challenge in court. Democrats have offered $1.3 billion in new funding for border security, but none specifically for a wall.

Most Democrats say they agree on the need for border security, but say there is no national security crisis and believe a wall would be an impractical waste of money.

“I do think if we reopen the government, if the president ends this shutdown crisis, we have folks who can negotiate a responsible, modern investment in technology that will actually make us safer,” Democratic Senator Chris Coons of Delaware said on Fox.

Coons blamed the impasse on border wall funding that led to the shutdown on Trump. He said the president had accepted a border security package that included money for a wall, then changed his mind. “The only crisis here is one that’s been created by the president’s abrupt change in position at the end of last year in the last days of a Republican-controlled Congress,” Coons said.

He added that Trump should test the Democrats’ willingness to compromise by making the concessions he is willing to make clear to everyone.

Trump insists building a wall along the border will bring down the nation’s crime rate. He says illegal drugs are pouring into the United States from Mexico, even though security experts say most come through legal ports of entry.

Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay. Congress says all affected federal workers will get back pay as soon as the shutdown is over, but that brings little assurance to those who have immediate expenses or little or no savings in case of an emergency. While the Trump has said he “can relate” to their loss of income, he says a broken border is more damaging than a government shutdown.

Build a better website in under an hour. Start for free at us!

    $.99* .COM Domain! You be you with us!     Web Hosting $3.95