Friday, January 25, 2019

Shutdown Meltdown, Con't

As the Trump Shutdown reaches the 35-day mark, we've finally reached a major tipping point as several major US airports are now in "ground stop" mode, causing massive flight delays due to lack of air traffic controller staff.

Federal officials temporarily restricted flights Friday into and out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport, another example of the toll that the partial government shutdown — in its 35th day — is taking on the nation’s airports.

“We have experienced a slight increase in sick leave at two facilities,” a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. “We’ve mitigated the impact by augmenting staffing, rerouting traffic and increasing spacing between aircraft when needed. The results have been minimal impacts to efficiency while maintaining consistent levels of safety in the national airspace system."

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Friday that President Trump had been briefed on the situation.

"We are in regular contact with officials at the Department of Transportation and the FAA,” she said.

The FAA fiasco immediately turned into a deal to temporarily reopen the government as Trump realized he has to reopen the government, and that Pelosi has won this round.

President Trump on Friday announced a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on his demand for border wall money, a move expected to bring an end to the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The pact, announced by Trump from the Rose Garden at the White House, would reopen shuttered government departments for three weeks while leaving the issue of $5.7 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall to further talks.

The outcome was a win for Democrats and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had insisted on no negotiations until the government was reopened.

Trump said that a congressional conference committee would spent the next three weeks working in a bipartisan fashion to come up with a border security package. He made it clear that he expects wall funding to be a prominent part of that.

“No border security plan can never work without a physical barrier. It just doesn’t happen,” Trump said in his remarks.

Trump said he was asking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to put legislation on the floor immediately to implement the deal.

If approved by Congress, the deal would allow federal employees to return to work. But it sets up another fight in coming weeks over the same issues at the heart of the impasse.

No wall funding, and no leverage to get it, but it does mean this comes as the Trump regime is now apparently preparing to go ahead and break the self-created Feb. 15 impasse with an emergency powers declaration and skipping Congress entirely.

The White House is preparing a draft proclamation for President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency along the southern border and has identified more than $7 billion in potential funds for his signature border wall should he go that route, according to internal documents reviewed by CNN. 
Trump has not ruled out using his authority to declare a national emergency and direct the Defense Department to construct a border wall as Congress and the White House fight over a deal to end the government shutdown. But while Trump's advisers remain divided on the issue, the White House has been moving forward with alternative plans that would bypass Congress. 
"The massive amount of aliens who unlawfully enter the United States each day is a direct threat to the safety and security of our nation and constitutes a national emergency," a draft of a presidential proclamation reads. 
"Now, therefore, I, Donald J. Trump, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C 1601, et seq.), hereby declare that a national emergency exists at the southern border of the United States," the draft adds
The draft was updated as recently as last week, a US government official told CNN.

According to options being considered, the administration could pull: $681 million from Treasury forfeiture funds, $3.6 billion in military construction, $3 billion in Pentagon civil works funds, and $200 million in Department of Homeland Security funds, the official said. 
As lawmakers discussed a short-term measure to fund the government Thursday, Trump again raised the prospect of other ways to fund a border wall without congressional approval. 
"I have other alternatives if I have to and I'll use those alternatives if I have to," he told reporters. 
"A lot of people who wants this to happen. The military wants this to happen. This is a virtual invasion of our country," Trump said. 
The Defense Department referred a request for comment from CNN to the White House.

So the emergency declaration has reached the leakable draft document stage at least.  What this means isn't clear, Congress does have to sign off on any emergency declaration eventually, but Trump figures he can move the money, declare victory, and then...we don't know, does he shut down the government again then?  Does he militarize the border?  It all gets really crazy after that point.

I don't know if Trump will actually do it, he was scared off once before, but if it's gotten this far along in the draft process, my guess is that this is a trial balloon heading into the weekend and possible action on Monday.

But even if he does declare an emergency, why then would he agree to keep open the government?  He clearly doesn't care about people suffering given his past actions on policy, and he clearly doesn't care about the economic consequences given the same history of policy actions.  Since the cruelty is the point, why wouldn't he choose to continue it and demand more/different concessions from Pelosi?

We'll see what happens here, but anyone who believes Trump getting funding for his wall through this end run next month means he'll keep open the government is in for a surprise, should he go that route, and I actually think it makes an emergency declaration more likely as a result.  He's setting us up for Round 2 next month, but at least he gets his Super Bowl weekend in the meantime. Whether or not Pelosi wins that round, well, we'll see.  Hostage taking is much more effective when you're willing to shoot some hostages.

And of course an emergency declaration means he'll start claiming more and more executive power.  That how this always works.

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