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The partial government shutdown became the longest closure in U.S. history at when the clock ticked past midnight Friday as President Donald Trump and nervous Republicans scrambled to find a way out of the mess.

A solution couldn’t come soon enough for federal workers who got pay statements Friday but no pay.

The House and Senate voted to give federal workers back pay whenever the federal government reopens and then left town for the weekend, leaving the shutdown on track to become one for the record books once the clock struck midnight and the closure entered its 22nd day.

And while Trump privately considered one dramatic escape route — declaring a national emergency to build the wall without a new stream of cash from Congress — members of his own party were fiercely debating that idea, and the president urged Congress to come up with another solution.

“What we’re not looking to do right now is national emergency,” Trump said. He insisted that he had the authority to do that, adding that he’s “not going to do it so fast” because he’d still prefer to work a deal with Congress.

About 800,000 workers missed paychecks Friday, many receiving blank pay statements. Some posted photos of their empty earnings statements on social media as a rallying cry to end the shutdown, a jarring image that many in the White House feared could turn more voters against the president as he holds out for billions in new wall funding.

With polls showing Trump getting most of the blame for the shutdown, the administration accelerated planning for a possible emergency declaration to try to get around Congress and fund the wall from existing sources of federal revenue. The White House explored diverting money for wall construction from a range of other accounts. One idea being considered was diverting some of the $13.9 billion allocated to the Army Corps of Engineers after last year’s deadly hurricanes and floods.

That option triggered an outcry from officials in Puerto Rico and some states recovering from natural disasters, and appeared to lose steam on Friday.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom called it an “unconscionable” idea to look at using disaster assistance “to pay for an immoral wall that America doesn’t need or want.”

Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas told reporters after discussions with the White House: “I feel confident disaster relief dollars will not be tapped.” Brady said the administration was looking at the “breadth” of unspent dollars in other government accounts.

Other possibilities included tapping asset forfeiture funds, including money seized by the Department of Justice from drug kingpins, according to a congressional Republican not authorized to speak publicly about private conversations. The White House also was eyeing military construction funds, another politically difficult choice because the money would be diverted from a backlog of hundreds of projects at bases around the nation.

Despite Trump’s go-slow message, momentum grew in some corners for some sort of emergency declaration. Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who met with the president on Friday, took to Twitter afterward to urge: “Mr. President, Declare a national emergency NOW. Build a wall NOW.”

Trump has been counseled by outside advisors to move toward a national emergency declaration, but many in the White House are trying to pump the brakes. Senior aide Jared Kushner, who traveled with the president to the Texas border on Thursday, was among those opposed to the declaration, arguing to the president that pursuing a broader immigration deal was a better option. A person familiar with White House thinking said that in meetings this week, the message was that the administration is in no rush and wants to consider various options. The person was unauthorized to discuss private sessions and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has signaled moral opposition to the wall and vowed to oppose any funding, said the president is seeking to divert attention from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and other White House problems.

“This isn’t a wall between Mexico and the United States. This is a wall between his failures of his administration,” Pelosi told reporters. “This is a big diversion, and he’s a master of diversion.”

Pelosi sent a letter to colleagues late Friday thanking House Democrats for passing bills to reopen shuttered departments and agencies. Pelosi said there’s “no excuse for President Trump to keep government shut down over his demands for an ineffective, wasteful wall.” She said he’s “endangering the health and safety of the American people and stealing paychecks from 800,000 innocent workers” over the shutdown.

Although Trump has been frustrated with aides as he loses the public relations battle over the shutdown, White House attempts to use the trappings of the presidency to buttress his case for the wall have yielded mixed results in the president’s view.



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Trump recognizes Venezuela opposition leader as interim president amid mass protests against Maduro

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Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, while hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans poured onto the streets to demand an end to the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro.

In a statement minutes later, U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s legitimate interim president.

Demonstrators clogged avenues in eastern Caracas, chanting “Get out, Maduro” and “Guaido, Presidente,” while waving national flags. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters in several areas. A rally the night before left four people reported dead, an echo of tumultuous riots two years ago.

The opposition has been energized by young congress chief Guaido, who has led a campaign to declare Maduro a usurper and has promised a transition to a new government in a nation suffering a hyperinflationary economic collapse.

Guaido, in a speech before a cheering crowd, took an oath swearing himself in as interim president.

“I swear to assume all the powers of the presidency to secure an end of the usurpation,” he said.

He has said he would be willing to replace Maduro with the support of the military and to call free elections.

The Trump administration told U.S. energy companies it could impose sanctions on Venezuelan oil as soon as this week if the political situation worsens, according to sources.

Maduro was inaugurated on Jan. 10 to another term in office following a widely boycotted election last year that many foreign governments described as a fraudulent. His government accuses Guaido of staging a coup and has threatened him with jail.

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DAMAC chairman calls bottom for Dubai property market, sees value in Brexit

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A major Emirati property developer believes Dubai’s property market has bottomed out — but says there remain at least two more tough years ahead before a full rebound.

“2018 has been a difficult year, prices have come down, sales have come down, and I think ’19 and ’20 are going to be also not easy years,” Hussain Sajwani, chairman of Dubai real estate heavyweight DAMAC Properties told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Wednesday. “I think we are at the bottom, from a price point of view, but it will take at least two years to absorb the supply.”

The UAE’s commercial hub has suffered a bruising year, with Dubai’s stock market the worst-performing in the Middle East, a fall in tourism and record drops in property sales. Property sector analysts say the city has been overbuilding, and with weak demand for all the newly built homes and apartments, property prices have been tanking. Residential prices in the emirate of 3 million have fallen by some 15 percent since 2014.

A report by real estate platform PropertyFinder published last November predicted a continued slide for the sector in 2019, as supply is expected to double or even triple while demand remains subdued.

Sajwani described a “beautiful five years of growth” at the start of the decade that saw prices going up, and emphasized his belief that the city would stage a comeback.

“Dubai is very resilient, from the long-term growth. It’s always going to go through the cycle,” he said. “As a free capital economy, you know, people are going to overbuild, and then going to catch up. And the leader is very open-minded,” Sajwani added, referencing the leader of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.

“He doesn’t want to restrict the supply or the demand. He says, ‘Let the supply-demand naturally take its place. No point of control(ling) the supply — let everybody manage as a normal economy’.”

DAMAC, with an annual turnover of some $2 billion, was the first Middle Eastern real estate company to list on the London Stock Exchange. The company reported its worst quarter of booked sales last April-June with a 46 percent fall in profits. Still, the company’s leadership predicts a cyclical recovery and has plans to continue expansion in the Middle East, Africa, the U.S. and in Europe in particular.

Sajwani predicted similar levels for profits in 2019 and 2020, but stressed that the company’s focus now is on streamlining costs and finding opportunities to grow in overseas markets. London is a bright spot on the chairman’s radar — and not in spite of Brexit, but because of it, thanks to a dramatic drop in the value of the pound.

“We like London, we have experience in London,” he said, describing a 50-storey tower slated to be completed at the end of next year. “We see, in Brexit issues, a great opportunity, as (the) price is going to correct, the pound has come down really drastically, and we’re waiting for an opportunity to invest in London, and we want to go in a big way in London.”

And Sajwani described interest in a number of real estate sub-sectors, pointing to mixed-use property, luxury apartments, office buildings, and retail. “So we’re looking at property from all the angles, and we’re willing to write a big check and go in a big way in London. We believe in London,” he added.

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Bill Gates turns $10 billion into $200 billion worth of economic benefit

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Investing in global health organizations aimed at increasing access to vaccines created a 20-to-1 return in economic benefit, billionaire Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates told CNBC on Wednesday.

Over the past two decades, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has donated “a bit more than $10 billion” into mainly three groups: the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

“We feel there’s been over a 20-to-1 return,” yielding $200 billion over those 20 or so years, Gates told CNBC’s Becky Quick on “Squawk Box” from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “Helping young children live, get the right nutrition, contribute to their countries — that has a payback that goes beyond any typical financial return.”

As a comparison, Gates echoed what he wrote in an essay in The Wall Street Journal last week under the banner “The Best Investment I’ve Ever Made,” saying that same $10 billion put into the S&P 500 would have grown only to $17 billion over 18 years, factoring in reinvested dividends.

On vaccines, Gates also had a message for parents who fear side effects as a reason not to get their kids their shots. “It is wild that just because you get misinformation, thinking you’re protecting your kid, you’re actually putting your kid at risk, as well as all the other kids around them.”

Using measles as an example of a once-dangerous disease that’s easily preventable by a vaccine, Gates warned against complacency.

“As you get a disease down to small numbers, people forget. So they back off. They think, ‘Gosh, I heard from rumor. Maybe I’ll just avoid doing it,'” he said. “As you accumulate more and more people saying that for whatever reason, eventually measles does show up. Kids get sick. And sometimes they die.”

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