The government is STILL shut down
A defense official who follows border wall issues very closely pointed out there are a number of issues the Pentagon and White House must resolve in order to make a possible national emergency declaration workable.
As CNN has reported, the Department of Defense, even without a declaration, is already working to identify the funds that are not yet under contract for military construction projects.
How they're planning to the fund the wall: Defense Department officials told CNN that the Pentagon is planning a figure of about $2.5 billion in funds they believe they can tap to support construction of a border wall if Trump declares an emergency and orders the military to build a wall. Those funds fall under the "unobligated" pool of funds, which means the funds are earmarked but have no signed contracts signed for spending that money. Anything beyond that would require the cancellation of existing military construction projects, which might come with costly termination fees.
If Trump wants additional funds from projects that are already in contract, he'd have to cancel projects like a fire station at Quantico, child development at Joint Base Andrews or Navy Seal training facilities improvements for combat training.
The official said one concern is that once the money goes to a wall: How do you get re-funded by Congress for the construction of these other projects so readiness is not impacted?
If a decision is made for a national emergency, the Pentagon will offer different courses of action to proceed.
The "Pope's favorite nun" Sister Norma Pimentel will be participating in roundtable with President Trump in Rio Grande this afternoon, according to her spokesperson.
Pimentel's spokesperson Brenda Riojas Nettles said her message will be: "What it always is, taking care of the people in front of her."
Pimentel wrote an op-ed addressed to Trump on Jan. 9, in which she said “regardless of who we are and where we came from, we remain part of the human family and are called to live in solidarity with one another.”
In 2015, Pope Francis personally thanked Pimentel for her work on the border, saying “I want to thank you."
"And through you to thank all the sisters of religious orders in the US for the work that you have done and that you do in the United States. It's great. I congratulate you. Be courageous. Move forward.”
Then the Pope, 78, said something she could never have imagined: “I'll tell you one other thing. Is it inappropriate for the Pope to say this? I love you all very much.“
Federal government employee unions, from across all government agencies, are unifying across the US to demand the government shutdown end.
Some of the states with rallies include Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia, Florida, Utah, Colorado, New York, California, North Carolina, Illinois and Texas.
"These people need a voice," Eric Engle, who's organizing a rally in Parkersburg, West Virginia. "They need a rally like this to be able to come out and publicly say that they will not tolerate being used as pawns in this battle over a wall."
In Denver, hundreds of federal employees, in addition to their friends and families, are expected to rally.
And in Chicago, rallies could become a weekly occurrence (if the shutdown continues).
"We plan on rallying every Thursday until the Trump Shutdown ends," Matt Muchowski, American Federal Government Employee union District 7 officer manager, told CNN.
Part of the White House counsel's office review of declaring a national emergency has included laying the groundwork for a legal defense of the move, according to officials familiar with the matter.
That has included advising the President's aides on ramping up talk of the humanitarian and security "crisis" — a characterization that administration lawyers could use later in court to defend a national emergency. The lawyers have suggested the more times the term is used, the more citations they will have in filing a legal defense.
Trump and others in the White House began using that term more frequently over the past week.
The lawyers are looking for other ways to illustrate that an emergency is underway, recognizing a declaration would be challenged by Democrats. That has also included hosting lawmakers in the Situation Room for talks, a setting that lends to the sense of crisis.
The counsel's office review of the emergency powers as it relates to the border began in the middle of last week, officials said. Trump said today his legal team has told him he has the "absolute right" to declare an emergency.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said House Democrats would continue to vote on spending bills next week to reopen shuttered parts of the government.
Talking about yesterday's meeting, Pelosi described Trump as “un-presidential” and accused his team of staging the event.
“I think the meeting was a setup, so he could walk out," Pelosi said.
“I don’t know that the President wants the wall. I think he just wants to debate the wall,” she added.
Asked how the House would respond if Trump declared a national emergency, Pelosi said “let’s see what he does.”
“If and when the President does that, you’ll find out how we would react,” she said, predicting Trump will have problems on his own side of the aisle "for exploiting this situation in a way that enhances his power."
“I don’t think he really wants a solution,” she later added. “I think he loves the distraction.”
A group of government employees have gathered at the IRS building in New York City to protest the government shutdown.
Many are holding signs. Some of them read....
- "Let me do my job"
- "End the shutdown"
- "Reopen the EPA"
- "We want to work"
- "We aren't bargaining chips!"
Nearly three dozen major aviation groups, including unions representing airline pilots, air traffic control operators, and air medical operators, have sent President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell a letter explaining the many ways the shutdown is affecting various aspects of the aviation system, from TSA to FAA to air traffic control.
The letter implores them to “act now” because the shutdown is “hampering our ability to function effectively” and has “inflicted real damage.”
Here's who signed the letter:
The city of Minneola in central Florida is deferring federal workers' bills and waving late fees until after the shutdown is over.
"We understand the federal government shutdown is beyond your control and a difficult time for you and your families," the city wrote on Facebook.
The city is deferring water, wastewater, reclaimed water, irrigation water, stormwater, and solid waste fees and waiving all late fees.
The nearby city of in Mascotte, Florida, also will not charge late fees if furloughed workers miss their bill payments.
“We will not disconnect a resident who is working for one of the closed federal agencies and we will not be charging late fees," Jim Gleason, the city manager of Mascotte said. "They will need to pay the bill, but we will work with them on a plan to get caught when they start to get paid."
President Trump said his trip to Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum is up in the air as the government shutdown continues.
“Well, I intended to go and speak in front of the world financial community in Davos. That’s still on, but if shutdown continues, which is in a while from now, if the shutdown continues, I won’t go,” he told reporters Thursday.
“We have a great story to tell” the world leaders, Trump said, citing the “best job numbers we’ve ever had in many ways.”