Congress Battles To Avoid Government Shutdown

By Jake Smith

As Republicans in Congress and the President are licking their wounds from a defeat on repealing and replacing Obamacare, a government shutdown is looming over Congress.

April 28 is the day, non-essential federal government offices close their doors due to lack of funding for the upcoming fiscal year. Both parties in the House and Senate are negotiating a spending package that will prevent those offices from closing.

President Trump has asked Congress to cut $18 billion in domestic discretionary spending while requesting $30 billion in extra defense funding and $3 billion for border defense, $1.5 billion of that for the border wall. Although, Democrats have vowed to oppose any legislation that will fund the US-Mexico border wall.

President Trump is unlikely to get the funding for his border wall, because Republicans lack the Senate votes to silent a Democratic filibuster, meaning any government funding bill will have to be a bipartisan effort.

Funding the government will be the first major legislation the Republicans and Democrats are attempting after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) was forced to pull the American Health Care Act – the Republican Obamacare replacement plan – from the House floor on Friday.

Ryan told reporters Tuesday the Republican leadership will not use the government funding bill to defund Planned Parenthood. “We think reconciliation is the tool, because that gets it into law,” Ryan suggesting using a separate bill to defund the organization. This may come as a surprise to more conservative members of the Republican Party who would want to use government funding to defund Planned Parenthood.

 “It would put the lives of the men and women serving in the military in greater danger because they can't train, and, therefore, they are not ready to fight,” Senator John McCain (R-AZ) told Arizona Republicans over the prospects of a government shutdown, “And we are fighting, as you know.”

Any spending bill would only keep the doors open through September 30, the federal government’s end of fiscal year 2017.

House and Senate Appropriation Committee members anticipate they will have a bill ready the week of April 24, days before the shutdown.

 

Agreement among key lawmakers on spending bill to avoid government shutdown.

Fox is told that there is an agreement among key lawmakers on the $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown. We are told they are just processing the paperwork now and the bill should be posted in the next few hours.

This enables them to put this bill to the Rules Committee tomorrow and bring it to the House floor Thursday. Unclear when the Senate would tackle this as the deadline is 11:59:59 pm Thursday.'

Starbucks takes a stand against the government shutdown

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is fed up with lawmakers inability to resolve the government shutdown. He wants Congress to come together to fix the problems in Washington and he is willing to give away free coffee to generous customers who set an example. Earlier this week, Starbucks announced plans to offer a free cup of coffee to any customer that purchased a beverage for someone else.  In a memo to staff, Schultz said the offer was a way to help his fellow citizens "support and connect with one another, even as we wait for our elected officials to do the same for our country."

The coffee giant has also started a petition-- a peacemaking effort of sorts--that asks officials to reopen the government, pay U.S. national debts on time & pass a long-term budget deal by the end of the year. Schultz plans to share the petition with business leaders and anticipates they will gather "a lot" of signatures.  The petition will be available starting today [Friday] at all 11,000 U.S. locations--

So what do you think about all of this? Should a business CEO take matters into his own hands? What kind of impact--if any-- will this have? Would you sign the petition?  Share your thoughts with us on the blog or via Twitter @BretBaier and if you have photos please send them our way! We will share them on social media! 

 

Photos: A message from the Starbucks iPhone app advertising free coffee to customers who purchase a drink for another person. Second photo was taken at a Starbucks location on Capitol Hill about 2.5 blocks from the U.S. Capitol as a way to help furloughed workers. 

Thousands gather on ‘closed’ National Mall for immigration reform rally

By Gabriella Morrongiello

(Photo: Getty Images)

WASHINGTON-- Despite restricting veterans’ access to war memorials and limiting sightseeing and museum-going for tourists visiting the Nation’s capital, the government shutdown and subsequent closure of National Parks, open-air monuments and memorials did not prevent thousands of immigrants – both legal and illegal – from marching on the National Mall Tuesday to support comprehensive immigration reform.

The March for Immigrant Dignity and Respect, dubbed the “Camino Americano” or American Walk, included participants from groups like the Service Employees International Union, United Farmworkers and CASA de Maryland. Thousands turned out and listened as speakers like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and vibrant immigration reform advocate Rep. Luis Guiterrez called for a path toward citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Furthermore, leading immigrants’ rights activists - joined by eight Democratic lawmakers – were arrested by Capitol Police in an act of civil disobedience with onlookers chanting “let them go” and the popular rallying cry “Sí, se Puede,”-- Yes, we can.

Though the march drew a large crowd and served to reenergize immigration reform advocates, critics questioned its clearance in the first place granted that veterans and Americans have been turned away from National Parks and memorials closed during the shutdown.

“It was troubling, the ease with which illegal immigrants can rally on a supposedly closed facility. That suggests a kind of warped priority on behalf of the administration,” said Steven Camarota, director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies-- an organization dedicated to studying the fiscal consequences of immigration.  

On its face, Camarota believes that allowing the rally to occur after veterans were turned away from the WWII memorial just last week suggests “the administration is more accommodating to people who aren’t supposed to be in the country than they are to our veterans.”

Susana Flores, a spokeswoman for the immigrant advocacy group CASA de Action who organized the march, refuted such claims.

“They [National Parks Services] allowed us to have it because it is part of the First Amendment of the constitution,” Flores told the Daily Caller.

Leslie Arias, a college student from New York who came to the march with a student group called the John Jay DREAMers, believed that “veterans should have the right to come in and see the monuments and everything because they also fought for the country,” noting, however, that the she doesn’t feel the march taking place was unfair.

“I mean I wouldn’t say it’s unfair because I feel this is a different cause, a completely different cause and it’s a different matter—I think it’s a larger matter,” said Arias. “Not to say that veterans like don’t matter, but it’s like you guys are allowed, you guys have your rights, you guys are citizens, you guys are veterans in the country. These are people that are fighting for something.”

However, other organizations fighting for various causes that also planned to hold events on the Mall weren’t as fortunate and have had to cancel or make alternative arrangements for their events. The Kicking for Kids Who Can’t Kick-a-thon sponsored by the Amputee Coalition was scheduled for Oct. 19 on the Mall, but was cancelled by organizers in light of the shutdown. Additionally, organizers of the Children’s National Medical Center’s 5k Race for Every Child had to move Saturday’s activities off of Freedom Plaza and onto Pennsylvania Ave., though the actual 5k route remained unchanged.

Interns, work-study students furloughed during shutdown

 By Gabriella Morrongiello

WASHINGTON-- Numerous college students pursuing internships or federal work-study positions inside the Beltway have been asked to stay home amid the government shut down. 

Like many college students, those attending school in D.C. often work part-time to help cover the costs of textbooks and tuition. For these students however, rather than serving coffee at a campus java shop they often have the unique benefit of seeking internships and part-time jobs at a variety of federal agencies and institutions within the District. 

Nonetheless, until Congress can reach an agreement and end the government shutdown students employed at federal agencies may be wishing they'd chosen the campus coffee shop instead.

"We want people to understand that there aren't necessarily big, impending disruptions coming. Your financial aid is not going to disappear," Kent Springfield, Director of Federal Government Relations told George Washington University's online newsletter, noting however that "if you're a student who has a federal work study job at a federal agency you will not be able to go into work."

Amanda Rewarts, a sophomore at the George Washington University just recently secured a Federal Work-Study position at the National Archives and was eager to begin her second Friday on the job. As political ping pong continued however, her boss told advised her to “watch the news to know if the government was going to shutdown” in order to determine whether she could come into work on Friday. 

“I have only missed one day of work, but it will significantly reduce my hours…” said Rewarts. “But there is not much I can do besides wait. And I really want to get started because I will probably have to be trained again [since] I have forgotten everything I learned on the first day.”

According to Michelle Sherrard, Executive Director of Communications for The George Washington University, there are plenty more students like Rewarts.

"We have about 50 students who work at agencies affected by the shutdown. We have been in touch with the students since early this week to keep them informed," said Sherrard.

Bret takes your questions!

Bret breaks down the budget battle

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