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By Dartunorro Clark and Tammy Leitner

Federal workers woke up to a harsh reality on Friday when they did not receive their expected paychecks for the first time as the partial government shutdown entered its 21st day.

An estimated 800,000 federal employees have been furloughed or are working without pay, throwing everything from airport security to environmental protection to federal resources for low-income housing into jeopardy.

The last government shutdown to have lasted this long was the impasse that stretched from December 1995 to January 1996, when President Bill Clinton and the GOP-controlled Congress were at loggerheads. As of Friday afternoon, with the shutdown poised to become the longest in U.S. history, President Donald Trump and Congress appeared no closer to a deal to reopen the government.

Trump on Friday continued to lambaste Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for standing firm in their refusal to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Humanitarian Crisis at our Southern Border,” the president said on Twitter a day after traveling to Texas to bolster his argument for the wall. “I just got back and it is a far worse situation than almost anyone would understand, an invasion!”

“The Steel Barrier, or Wall, should have been built by previous administrations long ago. They never got it done – I will. Without it, our Country cannot be safe. Criminals, Gangs, Human Traffickers, Drugs & so much other big trouble can easily pour in. It can be stopped cold!”

With negotiations at a standstill, Trump has threatened to keep key agencies shuttered for months or even a year if Democrats don’t agree to allocate billions for his border wall. The president has even signaled that he would declare a national emergency to bypass Congress and siphon billions from the federal government to build the wall.

On Friday, the Democrat-controlled House passed two bills to provide relief to workers and reopen some essential federal agencies. One bill to reopen the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other related agencies passed 240 to 179, with 10 Republicans voting with Democrats. The other bill, which guarantees back pay to federal workers, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 411 to 7. Seven Republicans voted against that measure.

Currently, some government agencies are relying on temporary funds to keep some operations going, but experts have warned that the situation could get grimmer if it drags on.

For many workers going without pay, it’s already dire.

William Villegas and Michelle Seeley, a couple that works as contract employees for the Kennedy Space Center and members of the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, told NBC News on Friday that the uncertainty has caused considerable worry in their household, especially since they have two children.

“I’m severely disappointed in the government, all of them, and I vote in every election,” Seeley said. “And as a member of the union, I’ve taken part in rallying other people to vote because I think it’s an important part of the democratic process, so the whole thing is disappointing to me because I feel like nothing is working the way it’s supposed to work in the government.”

Since both are contract employees, they are not guaranteed back pay if the government reopens. The couple said they have savings that they haven’t dipped into yet, but health care expenses are a concern.

“Well, we have two small children, so the medical issue is constant,” Seeley said. “You never know when they’re gonna get sick, or need something.”

Villegas said the shutdown “didn’t have to happen” and pinned some of the blame on Trump, alluding to separate instances in which either the House or the Senate passed bills that would have created a path to ending the stalemate.

U.S. Internal Revenue Services employees rally in front of the Federal Building against the ongoing U.S. federal government shutdown, in Ogden, Utah on Jan. 10, 2019.George Frey / Reuters

LeRoy and Judy Smith also had harsh words for Washington. LeRoy, also a member of the the Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, is an electrician at the space center. The couple said they live paycheck to paycheck, and that Judy has a condition that causes seizures, requiring her to rely on expensive prescription medication.

“He doesn’t like having to say that he can’t do a thing, especially when it’s for me,” Judy said. “He doesn’t like to say he can’t get my medicine for me.”

Since the shutdown, LeRoy said he has been considering temporary work to keep “his head above water.”

“It’s childish to shut down the government just because you can’t come to an agreement,” LeRoy said.

“It’s like we’re being held hostage,” Judy added.

The Associated Press reported on Friday that the government shutdown has suspended federal cleanups at Superfund sites around the nation and forced the cancellation of public hearings. As a result, a mostly African-American community in Alabama, for instance, has been forced to cope with high levels of arsenic, lead and other contaminants in the soil around homes.

Low-income senior citizens in Jacksonville, Florida, have also been left to fend for themselves because the shutdown froze funds the Department of Housing and Urban Development used for low-income housing.

And more grim scenarios could happen if the shutdown continues to drag on, including 38 million low-income Americans losing access to food stamps, 2 million losing access to rental assistance and facing possible eviction and the federal court system almost screeching to a halt.



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‘I will TELEPATHICALLY stop you!’ Uri Geller sends Theresa May BIZARRE Brexit warning

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PARANORMAL spoon bender Uri Geller has written a bizarre open letter to Theresa May, telling the Prime Minister he “loves” her but “will stop you telepathically” from carrying out Brexit.

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Rep. Steve King slammed as ‘white supremacist’ for remarks about Katrina victims

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/ Source: Associated Press

By Dartunorro Clark

WASHINGTON — GOP Rep. Steve King is under fire after he told constituents at a town hall that victims of Hurricane Katrina pleaded for help from the government in contrast to residents of his home state of Iowa who “take care of each other.”

“Here’s what FEMA tells me: We go to a place like New Orleans and everybody’s looking around saying, ‘Who’s gonna help me, who’s gonna help me?’ When FEMA responds to problems in Iowa, they’re just always gratified when they come and see how Iowans take care of each other,” the Iowa lawmaker told a town hall meeting in Charter Oak, Iowa, on Thursday.

King said he visited New Orleans, which is a majority black city, multiple times after the deadly 2005 storm. More than 1,800 people, mostly black, died from the disaster; however, government officials have noted that the true death toll could be much higher.

Recent spring flooding in the Midwest has devastated towns and rural communities across the region and has been blamed for three deaths.

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond, D-La., whose district includes New Orleans, said in a tweet on Thursday that the remarks are more evidence that King is a “white supremacist.”

“My heart goes out to all Iowans. Though it unsettles me that @SteveKingIA would dare compare them to the countless victims of Katrina, many of whom lost their lives. When people show you who they are, believe them. Steve King is a white supremacist and I won’t stand for it,” Richmond said.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, also blasted King in a tweet on Thursday, calling his comments “disgusting and disheartening.”

“These comments are disgusting and disheartening. When communities are affected by disasters, we come together to help each other, not tear each other down,” he said.

King was one of 11 members of Congress to vote against a bill to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 because he said the $51.8 billion aid package was too expensive. He called it a “good” and “principled” vote, according to HuffPost.

King’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday.

King has been under fire from his party for remarks about race. In January, GOP voted unanimously to remove King from all committees amid the uproar over his comments about white nationalism. The move came after he questioned why “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization” was offensive in an interview with The New York Times.

“How did that language become offensive?” he asked. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters at the time that King’s language is “reckless, wrong, and has no place in our society.”

King later backtracked in a statement at the time, saying, “I reject white nationalism. I reject white supremacy. It’s not part of any of my ideology. I reject anyone who carries that ideology.”`

Associated Press contributed.



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'BRAVO!’ Emmanuel Macron MOCKS Brexit supporters who wanted 'EASY' EU exit

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EMMANUEL Macron has taken a sarcastic swipe at Brexiteers who thought “leaving would be easy”.

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