The Latest: Trump says Democratic Party has been ‘hijacked’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the partial government shutdown (all times local):
President Donald Trump says the Democratic Party has been “hijacked” by those opposed to his plan for a U.S.-Mexico border wall as he seeks to turn up pressure on his political rivals over an ongoing partial government shutdown.
Trump said at the Pentagon on Thursday the government remains shut down because congressional Democrats refuse to approve border security. He claims without evidence that Democrats in the House and the Senate are willing to negotiate with him to make a deal to reopen the government but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (puh-LOH’-see) “will not let them negotiate.”
Pelosi is refusing money for the wall, which she views as ineffective and immoral. Democrats have been largely unified in opposition to the wall, which Trump is insisting on funding as a condition of reopening the government.
Democrats say they’ll discuss border security once the government reopens.
The shutdown is the longest ever, entering its 27th day Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi isn’t saying what she’ll do if President Donald Trump insists on delivering a State of the Union address during the partial government shutdown.
The California Democrat said Thursday she’s received no response to her letter suggesting Trump postpone the address while thousands of federal workers are unpaid. Asked whether she’d allow the speech to go forward Jan. 29 if Trump insists on delivering it, Pelosi replied, “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
Pelosi says the federal employees required to secure the event in the House of Representatives should be paid for the work.
The U.S. Constitution says the president “shall from time to time” deliver a state of the union address to Congress.
The shutdown is the longest ever, entering its 27th day Thursday. Trump wants $5.7 billion to help fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall, which Democrats oppose.
The number of furloughed federal employees seeking unemployment benefits jumped in the first two weeks of the partial government shutdown and topped 10,000 during the week of Jan. 5.
The Labor Department says that’s double the number of federal workers who sought aid in the previous week. Typically, fewer than 1,000 former federal employees apply for jobless benefits each week.
The department says federal employees who aren’t working during the partial government shutdown are eligible to claim unemployment aid. But those who are working without pay are not.
Even those sent home will have to repay the unemployment aid if they get back pay once the shutdown ends.
The shutdown began Dec. 22 and is the longest ever, entering its 27th day Thursday.
Officials say the rate of airport screeners missing work during the partial government shutdown has stabilized just days before the upcoming Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, which is likely to mean bigger airport crowds.
The Transportation Security Administration says 6.1 percent of its airport screeners missed work Wednesday. That compares with 5 percent on the same day last year. The sick-out rate was 7.7 percent on Sunday.
An agency official says screeners this week should have received $500 bonuses and, for some, an extra day’s pay, for working over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The government shutdown is taking a toll on a wildfire fight that hasn’t even started yet.
Wildfire training courses are being canceled, piles of dead trees are left untended in federal forests and controlled burns to thin fire-prone forests aren’t happening.
The winter months are critical for fire managers. They use it to prepare for the next onslaught of flames. But much of that work has ground to a halt on federal land because of job furloughs.
Wildfire managers are worried about hiring, training and forest management as the shutdown drags into a fourth week.
While the furloughs only affect federal employees, the collaborative nature of wildland firefighting means the pain of the shutdown is having a ripple effect.
President Donald Trump’s Republican allies say it’s a political ploy — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s request that he postpone his planned State of the Union address, which is set for Jan. 29.
Pelosi says the Secret Service and the Homeland Security Department are entangled in the shutdown and she’s suggesting in a letter to Trump that he should address Congress another time.
Neither Trump nor the White House has responded to the suggestion.
A top House Republican, Louisiana’s Steve Scalise (skuh-LEES’), tweets that Democrats are interested only in obstruction.
Trump could delay the address or deliver it in writing as was the norm before the 20th century.
The tradition for generations has called for a nationally broadcast address that provides the president a massive audience.