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Wednesday, January 23, 2019



by Tom Sullivan

Wednesday at noon EST, a coalition of federal workers and labor groups plans to protest the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The month-long Trump government shutdown over border wall funding continues to wear on affected federal employees working without pay, as well as on contractors not working at all.

The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) held a press conference Tuesday to roll out its new report. "Voices from the Field" examines how the partial shutdown affects not only FBI families but agency operations.

"For FBI Agents, financial security is national security," FBIAA President Tom O’Connor told reporters.

"I have to put the pervs on standby,” one agent complains in the report. Cases ranging from stopping child exploitation to interdicting gun runners are on hold, as are grand jury subpoenas slowed by lack of staff to process them.

Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz on Tuesday posted a video to the service's Twitter account slamming the stresses the government shutdown has placed on his command.

Without assigning blame, Schultz told his team:
"We're five plus weeks into the anxiety and stress of this government lapse and your non-pay," he told Coast Guard members, who work for the unfunded Department of Homeland Security. "You as members of the armed forces should not be expected to shoulder this burden," and while the "outpouring of support from local communities across the nation" has been heartening, "ultimately, I find it unacceptable that Coast Guard men and women have to rely on food pantries and donations to get through day-to-day life as service members."
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers in the Senate are not feeling enough stress. House Democrats are collecting Trump Shutdown Stories from workers and families impacted by the shutdown in an effort to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) into holding votes on any of multiple, House-passed bills for re-opening the government.

The "compromise" proposal McConnell instead proposes bringing to a vote on Thursday is a sham, writes Greg Sargent:
It has been so loaded up with poison pills that it looks as if it was deliberately constructed to make it impossible for Democrats to support.

If so, that would be perfectly in keeping with the M.O. that we’ve already seen from top adviser Stephen Miller, who appears devoted to scuttling any and all policies that could actually prompt compromises but which don’t endeavor to reduce the total number of immigrants in the United States to as low a figure as possible.
Sargent calls its provisions "utter nonsense on just about every level" and worse for asylum seekers, as it is meant to be. It creates a new system for Central American migrant children to apply for asylum exclusively "at soon-to-be-created application centers in Central America," closing off the normal process of presenting oneself to authorities on U.S. soil.
But that belies the deeper significance of this change. According to Philip Wolgin, the managing director for immigration policy at the Center for American Progress, by foreclosing the option of applying in the United States, it would gut the basic values at the core of our asylum program — values in keeping with international human rights norms holding that if people who had good reason to flee horrible civil conditions at home present themselves at borders and appeal for refuge, they have the right to have their claims heard.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) issued a statement about the shutdown impasse on Tuesday:
“On Thursday, the Senate will have the opportunity to put a bipartisan bill on the President’s desk to re-open government and end this senseless shutdown.

“Families across the nation have been suffering under the shutdown for more than a month. There is no excuse for Senate Republicans not to pass this legislation, which contains the funding proposal that they have already supported.

“Senate Republicans need to re-open government, not continue their complicity in the Trump Shutdown with a vote for the President’s unacceptable border and immigration schemes that only increase the chaos and suffering at the border.”
The Senate is the bottleneck. McConnell has retreated behind closed doors to avoid public opprobrium and pressure from the federal employees surrounding him. You can still turn up the heat on him via your own senators through tomorrow morning, especially if they are from McConnell's party.

Light 'em up.