This is the longest shutdown in US history
Speaker Nancy Pelosi shook things up by suggesting President Trump work with her to reschedule the Jan. 29 State of the Union address — or just submit it in writing.
The stated reason was security concerns — both the Department of Homeland Security and US Secret Service currently aren’t funded during the shutdown — but it was widely viewed as a move to jam the White House and shake up a dynamic that has been firmly set in “frozen” for weeks.
The lack of official White House response (or fiery tweet in response) has surprised Democrats up to this point, according to several aides.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan proposal in the Senate to get out of the shutdown circulated Wednesday. The plan promised border security negotiations in exchange for an immediate re-opening of the government.
The White House lobbied Republicans against signing the letter. Democrats wanted at least 20 GOP signatures to prove it had legs, but the signatures fell far short of the goal. Consider the letter dead.
The bottom line is this: On the 27th day of the government shutdown, we're at a point where it's all power plays and positioning. In other words, there is still no end in sight.
Cardi B is upset and worried. And she wants the world to know.
In a profanity-laced video, the rapper on Wednesday night addressed the ongoing government shutdown.
"I just wanna remind you that it's been a little bit over three weeks," she says in the video. "Trump is now ordering ... federal government workers to go back to work without getting paid. ... This is serious. Our country is in a hellhole right now. All for a ... wall."
Cardi B said she's feeling anxious and helpless as the shutdown drags on.
"I feel like we need to take some action," she says. "I don't know what type of action ... because this is not what I do. But ... I'm scared."
The Trump administration has been calling back furloughed workers and changing their status to essential. They are still working without pay — but the move is allowing the government to do more functions during the shut down.
It turns out the administration has fairly wide latitude to determine what governmental functions are essential and which can be suspended during a shutdown, according to Alice Rivlin, who led the Clinton White House's Office of Management and Budget through what is now the second-longest shutdown.
"The law itself is pretty vague. It’s a question of what's essential and what isn't," she said. "In the end it's a judgement call."
For example, when the government shutdown under Clinton during the holidays, there was a lot of debate about the Christmas tree.
"I said I didn't think the Christmas tree was essential. That one got a lot of screams and a lot of volunteers (to keep it lit and operating)," she said. "I thought that was unfortunate. I thought we wanted to make as clear as possible that the shutdown was inconveniencing people."
A White House official familiar with preparations says “at this point” Trump still plans to deliver his State of the Union speech as scheduled at the Capitol on Jan 29.
“The State of the Union address is on the 29th,” the official said. That’s the plan “at this point,” the official added.
On Wednesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi wrote Trump a letter asking him to move the day of the State of the Union address or deliver it in writing, citing security concerns from the ongoing government shutdown.
Remember: It's actually up to Speaker Pelosi and the House if the President speaks in the chamber. It's Pelosi's prerogative to invite and while there’s no precedent for it, if she decides the President shouldn’t speak at the Capitol on that Jan. 29, the President won’t speak at the Capitol on Jan. 29.
The House and the Senate have to pass resolutions to actually green light the State of the Union. Neither have done so yet, and Speaker Pelosi controls whether the House passes one at all.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that President Trump should stop negotiating with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and instead ramp up the pressure on rank-and-file Democrats.
Gingrich, Trump's ally who in the 1990s presided over one of the longest government shutdowns in US history, said he would advise Trump to hold political rallies in Democratic districts where the President performed well in 2016, with the goal of winning just enough Democratic support to break the current impasse.
"My advice would be: Why don't you schedule three rallies in three Democratic districts and have people show up — see how Democrats feel about that kind of direct pressure?" Gingrich told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday. "He ought to start planning right now. Reaching out to individual Democrats and ignoring Pelosi and Schumer."
Asked when he believed a new threshold would be reached when it comes to the length of the shutdown, Gingrich responded, "Late February."
The shutdown, now in its fourth week, has delayed the release of several reports ranging from new home sales to soybean purchases. Much of the data is normally published by the Commerce Department, but other agencies like the Treasury and the Department of Agriculture are also closed, or operating with razor-thin staffs.
On Wednesday, retailers didn't get a report on December sales, because the Commerce Department remains unfunded. It leaves them in the dark on how Americans spent their money during the holiday season.
Farmers would normally have looked to a report on world markets to help determine what to plant this spring, but it wasn't published by the Department of Agriculture last week.
If the shutdown lasts through January, it's unlikely the government will be able to publish its next report on GDP -- one of the broadest measures of economic activity that's closely watched by investors.
It's due on January 30: The report would cover the fourth quarter of 2018. There is some concern about how the economy did during those three months because of the tightening financial markets and a turmoil in the global economy, said Ryan Sweet, head of monetary policy research at Moody's Analytics.
The House passed a $12 billion disaster relief bill, with a clean stopgap spending bill attached that would open the government until Feb. 8.
The vote was 237-187. Six Republicans joined with Democrats in passing the bill.
The bill does not include funding for President Trump's long-promised border wall. It is not expected to be taken up by the Senate.
The measure is the latest effort by House Democrats to reopen government.
The House voted yesterday on a clean continuing resolution that would open the government until Feb. 1, but it failed to pass because it needed a two-thirds majority in this instance due to the way it was brought up on the floor.
And tomorrow, the House is set to vote on another clean continuing resolution that keeps the government open until Feb. 28.
One thing to note: The White House issued another veto threat today on the disaster relief bill. The White House expressed the administration's view on aspects of the bill, including $600 million in nutrition assistance to Puerto Rico, which it deemed “excessive and unnecessary” and other disaster relief efforts, including $16 million to the Energy Department’s Office of Electricity for technical assistance for recently-declared disasters.