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Wall Negotiations at Standstill in Congress: Shutdown Update

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Wall Negotiations at Standstill in Congress: Shutdown Update

(Bloomberg) -- The partial government shutdown stretched into its 21st day, tying the record for the longest. Judges, law enforcement officers, NASA engineers, weather forecasters and office staff were among some 800,000 federal workers who missed their first paychecks on Friday.

Wall Negotiations at Standstill in Congress (3:45 p.m)

Negotiations over ending the government shutdown are at a standstill with no talks scheduled for the rest of the day or weekend in Congress, according to two congressional aides.

The last meeting between President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican leaders ended with Trump walking out. He said "bye-bye" after Pelosi said she wouldn’t provide funding for a border wall even if Trump reopened the government.

Since that meeting on Wednesday, both sides have blamed each other, with the White House arguing Democrats are refusing to negotiate and Democrats accusing Trump of forcing government workers to go unpaid as leverage to get $5.7 billion for a wall that voters don’t want.

The Office of Management and Budget is preparing plans for a shutdown to continue through the end of February in an attempt to mitigate the impact, according to an administration official.

An attempt Thursday by moderate Republican senators to broker a deal trading immigration protections for Dreamers for wall money collapsed after the White House said the time wasn’t right for such a trade-off.

Trump to Sign Bill for Back Pay to Workers (3:36 p.m.)

President Donald Trump said he will sign legislation Congress has passed authorizing back pay for federal government workers once the shutdown ends.

“The message is that I appreciate their service to the country,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

About 380,000 federal employees have been put on furlough since Dec. 22 across nine government departments and dozens of agencies, while 450,000 employees are working without pay. For many of them, Friday marked the first missed paycheck.

Trump Won’t Use Emergency Powers ‘Right Now’ (3:13 p.m.)

President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t immediately seek to invoke emergency authority to build a border wall, telling reporters at the White House that would be “the easy way out.”

“The easy solution is for me to call a national emergency,” Trump said. “But I’m not going to do it so fast.”

Trump has asserted he has an “absolute right” to bypass Congress and fund the wall on his own authority by declaring a national emergency. But he indicated he wanted to spend more time trying to get Democrats in Congress to agree.

“What we’re not looking at right now is national emergency,” Trump said. But if Democrats “yell” that there’s no way they’ll vote for a wall, then “we’ll start thinking about another alternative,” he said.

Shutdown to Set Record as Congress Leaves (2:47 p.m.)

Both chambers of Congress adjourned for the weekend, ensuring the longest shutdown in modern history as lawmakers from both parties said they’re at a stalemate over President Donald Trump’s demand for border wall funding.

Even if Trump this weekend declares an emergency to tap existing funds to build the wall, lawmakers will still need to pass funding measures to open shuttered agencies, votes that couldn’t be held before next week.

Saturday will mark the 22nd day of the current partial shutdown. In 1995-96, the government was shuttered for 21 days.

Pence Urges Border Agents to ‘Focus on Mission’ (1:05 p.m.)

Vice President Mike Pence met with border agents in Washington to urge them to “focus on the mission” in the face of the government shutdown and missed paychecks.

“We’re going to figure this thing out,” Pence told them. “We’re going to get you the support you need. We’re going to build that wall.”

House Clears Back Pay for Federal Workers (12:16 p.m.)

The House cleared a bill to ensure the more than 800,000 federal workers who have lost wages due to the three-week government shutdown will be promptly paid when the government reopens.

The measure passed 411-7 on a bipartisan vote after the Senate unanimously approved it on Thursday. President Donald Trump has said he supports paying the workers.

About 380,000 federal employees have been put on furlough since Dec. 22 across nine government departments and dozens of agencies, while 450,000 employees are working without pay. For many of them, Friday marked the first missed paycheck.

The bill, S. 24, would guarantee workers are paid promptly regardless of pay schedule, and would restore any annual leave canceled during the shutdown.

House Democrats Vote to Reopen U.S. Parks, EPA (12:05 p.m.)

The House voted 240-179 to reopen U.S. national parks along with the rest of the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

The Democratic majority once again failed to splinter Republican members’ support for the three-week government shutdown triggered by President Donald Trump’s demand to pay for a border wall. Only 10 Republicans voted to reopen the parks, some of which have seen damage from tourists no longer being monitored by park rangers.

The Interior measure, H.R. 266, is virtually identical to one that passed the Senate last year on a 92-6 vote. Now, the GOP-controlled Senate doesn’t plan to vote on any legislation to reopen the government unless Trump promises to sign it. The White House says Trump will veto the measure unless he gets the border security funding.

Trump Likely to Decide on Emergency in Days (11:32 a.m.)

President Donald Trump is closing in on a decision to declare a national emergency to build a border wall, and it may happen within days, Representative Mark Meadows of North Carolina said.

“He’s getting closer to declaring a national emergency," said Meadows, who frequently talks to Trump.

"I think we’re talking days, not weeks," added Meadows, chairman and founding member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. Meadows says he still views that as a last option, but given the circumstances, "I think he’s got to do it.”

Meadows said it’s unlikely Trump will use disaster money allocated for Puerto Rico and other places to fund the wall.

"Pulling money from Puerto Rico, as has been reported, is not in the top 20 in terms of priority for the administration or us," he said. "There are lots of different pockets of money. And I’ve given them recommendations for three other pockets.”

Trump Calls Southern Border Crossings ‘an Invasion’ (11:27 a.m.)

President Donald Trump called illegal migration across the U.S.-Mexico border both a “humanitarian crisis” and an “invasion” as he considers declaring a national emergency to fund construction of his proposed border wall.

Puerto Rico Governor Slams Diverting Disaster Aid (10:26 a.m.)

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello slammed a plan circulating within the Trump administration to build a border wall with money Congress appropriated to assist in the recovery from hurricanes in Puerto Rico and Texas and wildfires in California.

“No wall should be funded on the pain and suffering of US citizens who have endured tragedy and loss through a natural disaster,” Rossello said in a tweet. “This includes those citizens that live in CA, TX, PR, VI and other jurisdictions. Today it’s us, tomorrow it could be you.”

Trump has said he has an “absolute right” to invoke emergency powers to build the border wall. That authority allows Trump to divert portions of the defense budget to new purposes in some cases, including funding for Army civil works projects.

The White House has directed the Army Corps of Engineers to examine a February 2018 emergency spending bill, which included disaster relief for Puerto Rico and other areas, to see what funds could be diverted to a border wall, according to a congressional aide who asked for anonymity to discuss private briefings by the administration.

Here’s What Happened Thursday:

Vice President Mike Pence publicly rejected a push by Senate Republican moderates to entice Democrats with a deal that would protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation in addition to funding a border wall. Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity on Thursday that he would “see what happens over the next few days” but would “likely” invoke emergency powers if he doesn’t reach a deal with Democrats.The Democrat-controlled House passed bills to reopen the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration, as well as the departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Only 10 Republicans backed the Agriculture bill and 12 GOP members voted for the Transportation-HUD measure.Trump canceled his planned trip to the Davos annual gathering of global financial elites later this month, citing the shutdown.

--With assistance from Erik Wasson, Justin Sink, Alyza Sebenius, Billy House and Jennifer Epstein.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Mike Dorning in Washington at mdorning@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, ;Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Justin Blum

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