House passes legislation to reopen gov’t on the 13th day of partial shutdown
As predicted, the partial government shutdown has trickled into the new year with no clear end in sight, despite the induction of the 116th Congress which includes a Democrat-majority House of Representatives.
In a meeting with the president on Friday, Jan. 4, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that Trump threatened to keep the government closed until he received the border wall funding.
“We told the president [that] we needed the government open,” Schumer told reporters. “He resisted. In fact he said he’d keep the government closed for a very long period of time, months or even years.”
Friday’s meeting showed no progress on the matter as Washington lawmakers struggle to find a way to reopen the government.
On Thursday, Jan. 3 — the first day of session and the 13th day of the shutdown — the House passed legislation that would end the government shutdown without money for Trump’s border wall, for which the administration is asking $5 billion.
One of the spending packages would keep the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) open until Feb. 8, and separate bill would reopen the rest of the federal government through Sept. 30.
Emphasizing the partisan nature of this whole ordeal, Pelosi after the House vote called the bills “Senate Republican appropriations legislation to reopen the government.”
But the House’s spending packages passed on Thursday night is very likely to be vetoed by the president, the administration stated. In a statement released on Thursday, Trump “cannot accept legislation that provides unnecessary funding for wasteful programs while ignoring the nation’s border security needs.”
Before Friday’s meeting, Trump wrote to all members of Congress urging them to pass legislation that would, not only fund the border wall (in his words, a “physical barrier”), but also that would revise statutes and legal barriers that restrict the detention of migrant children.
“Americans have endured decades of broken promises on illegal immigration,” Trump wrote. “Now, is the time for both parties to rise above the partisan discord, to set aside political convenience, and to put the national interest first.
For now, the partisan impasse between Democratic lawmakers and the Trump administration persists. A border security briefing on Wednesday at the White House yielded no solutions and left Democrats more adamantly opposing the requested border funding.
Amid these continued discussions between the Trump administration and Congress concerning the proposed border wall, the affected federal workforce has increased.
According to Senate Democrats, roughly 380,000 “nonessential” federal employees have been furloughed and an additional 420,000 must work without pay due to the shutdown. Those categorized as essential include active-duty Coast Guard service members and Border Patrol agents, both of whom are under the Dept. of Homeland Security.
But as the shutdown progresses, agencies across the federal workforce will start to lose more funding.
As previously reported in the Asian Journal, the shutdown has drastically affected public assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), both of which provide food and nutrition for low-income families.
National park operations run amok
The shutdown has affected several government agencies, but the National Park System, in particular, has experienced particularly drastic consequences.
Because of the shutdown, many National Park Service employees have been furloughed, meaning there is no one at entry gates and visitor centers, and no employees to charge the regular entry fees.
As a result, national parks across the country have experienced vandalism, illegal camping and massive pile ups trash and human waste around the campgrounds, National Park Service officials said.
Officials from the National Park Service have gradually been cutting off access to certain areas of national parks. As reported by the Los Angeles Times, rangers at Yosemite National Park have put up roadside checkpoints and are only allowing entrance for visitors with lodging or camping reservations.
On Wednesday, Jan. 2, the Joshua Tree National Park has closed for health and safety issues concerning the vault toilets (waterless restrooms located across the park), which have nearly overflowed and have caused some visitors to relieve themselves all around the campgrounds. Officials were also worried that the influx of litter could attract and harm more wildlife. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)