Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., talks to reporters after signing a House-passed a bill requiring that all government workers receive retroactive pay after the partial shutdown ends, at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. She is joined by, from left, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Rep. Anthony Brown, D-Md., and Rep. Don Beyer D-Va. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Trump says he has ‘no idea’ if deal can be made with Pelosi

U.S. government shut down has broken all records

As the partial government shutdown slipped into the record books, members of Congress had left town, no negotiations were scheduled and President Donald Trump tweeted into the void.

The president did not tip his hand Saturday 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 districts 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.

READ MORE: Shutdown becomes longest federal closure in US history

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. Later Saturday, he supplemented a day’s worth of tweets by telephoning in to Fox News Channel’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine” Pirro from the White House to continue his public relations blitz for the wall. Pirro pressed Trump on why he had yet to declare a national emergency. He said he’s giving Congress a chance to “act responsibly.”

Trump also said he has “no idea” whether he can get a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who opposes spending money on an “ineffective, wasteful wall.”

The president is expected in the new week to sign legislation 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, travelling 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, according to a congressional Republican not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. The White House also was eyeing military construction money, another politically difficult choice because it would take away from a backlog of hundreds of projects.

Trump has been counselled by outside advisers to move toward declaring a national emergency for the “crisis” that he says exists at the southern border. This, as polls suggest Trump is getting most of the blame for the shutdown.

But some in the White House are trying to apply the brakes. Jared Kushner was among those opposed to the declaration, arguing to his father-in-law that pursuing a broader immigration deal was a better option. A person familiar with White House thinking said that in meetings this past week, the message was that the administration is in no rush and wants to consider various options. The person was unauthorized to discuss private sessions and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pelosi argued that Trump is merely trying to steer attention away from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and other White House problems. “This is a big diversion, and he’s a master of diversion,” she told reporters.

Trump has told advisers he believes the fight for the wall, even if he never gets money for it, is a political win for him.

Some of the outside advisers who want him to declare a national emergency say it could have two benefits.

First, it would allow him to claim that he was the one to act to reopen the government. Second, inevitable legal challenges would send the matter to court, allowing Trump to continue the fight for the wall — and continue to excite his supporters — while not actually closing the government or immediately requiring him to start construction.

But while that might end the standoff and allow Congress to move to other priorities, some Republicans believe such a declaration would usurp congressional power and could lead future Democratic presidents to make similar moves to advance liberal priorities.

“Most conservatives want it to be the last resort he would use,” said Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a leader of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who speaks to Trump frequently. “But those same conservatives, I’m sure if it’s deployed, would embrace him as having done all he could do to negotiate with Democrats.”

READ MORE: FBI agents say U.S. government shutdown affecting operations

___

Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Colleen Long, Alan Fram, Lolita Baldor, Zeke Miller and Laurie Kellman in Washington and Matthew Lee in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

___

Jonathan Lemire, Lisa Mascaro, Jill Colvin And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Victoria shatters its oldest temperature record

B.C. sees fourth straight day of record-breaking warmth

Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts visits Victoria for Comic Con

He says he’s looking forward to the event, but don’t ask him where the snake is

Saanich falls short of climate goals

Under current projections, Saanich will have cut its emissions by seven per cent in 2020

UPDATED: Missing Victoria man found dead in Port Renfrew

Police continuing investigation, death not considered suspicious

Yarns, string and human hair pose a risk to Greater Victoria birds

Wild ARC handles a number of entanglement cases each year

After mosque attacks, New Zealand bans ‘military-style’ guns

The gunman killed 50 in a Christchurch mosque

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of March 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: When do you think the next major earthquake will hit Vancouver Island?

According to seismologists, Vancouver Island is overdue for a magnitude 7 earthquake.… Continue reading

ICBC shifts to Alberta model, with higher premiums, private insurers say

Minor injury cap, court restrictions take effect April 1 in B.C.

Trans woman hopes funding cut will send message to B.C. rape crisis group

Rape Relief does not turn transgender women away and often connects them to other services, group says

UPDATE: Two avalanches confirmed at Okanagan ski resort, one in hospital

A man has been sent to hospital after an isothermal avalanche at SilverStar March 20

Okanagan man, Yorkshire terrier chased by coyote

Animal sightings have been reported around West Kelowna and the Central Okanagan

B.C. lottery winner being sued by Surrey co-workers

They claim he owes them $200,000 each, in a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver

Most Read