All wall, all the time
Donald Trump's schedule for the week is filling in but seeking a speedy end to the partial government shutdown doesn't appear on it. The president's plan is to sell the wall, sell the wall and sell the wall, which Democrats are not buying.
Trump announced he will deliver a prime-time TV speech at 9 p.m. Tuesday, his first from the Oval Office, to take this case to the public about the "crisis" on the southern border. It's a pitch he has been making for 3 1/2 years since he began running for president in 2015, but polls have consistently shown more voters oppose a wall than favor it.
The White House also announced Trump will travel to the border on Thursday, signaling the shutdown will likely extend through the three-week mark, "to meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis."
Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said Democratic congressional leaders won't meet to try to end the impasse, which weekend discussions failed to resole. "Their position has been very clear: They refuse to negotiate until the federal government opens,” Pence said.
A Democratic congressional source told Roll Call that negotiations cannot move forward in a meaningful way, unless the president signals he will accept less than the $5.7 billion he is demanding for his proposed border barrier. For more, see Newsday's story by Laura Figueroa Hernandez.
Hard to miss
There was hesitation by the big four broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — on whether to agree to Trump's request to carry his speech live, but all of them fell in line. It will also be on the 24-hour cable news channels. The White House told them Trump will talk for about eight minutes.
Presidents don't get an automatic yes when such speeches are expected to be more partisan politics than policy. The networks declined in 2014 to carry a Barack Obama speech on immigration.
CNN media reporter Brian Stelter quoted a text from a network executive he didn't name about the networks' dilemma: "He calls us fake news all the time, but needs access to airwaves… If we give him the time, he'll deliver a fact-free screed without rebuttal. And if we don't give him the time, he'll call every network partisan. So we are damned if we do and damned if we don't."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi demanded equal time for the Democrats.
Janison: Trump's no-pay play
Federal employees upset about not getting paid for their work? It's not the kind of complaint Trump has never heard before.
During the 2016 campaign, writes Newsday's Dan Janison, one example after another emerged of the Trump Organization allegedly shafting contractors on his properties. A dishwasher, a glass company, a carpet company, a plumber, painters, waiters, bartenders and real estate brokers were among those cited by USA Today.
There's déjà vu too in Trump's pivot between concrete and steel for the wall. When he built Trump Tower, he considered steel but chose reinforced concrete as cheaper, which meant subcontracts for a concrete company part-owned by mob boss "Fat Tony" Salerno.
Cascading consequences I
Some impacts from the shutdown that began Dec. 20 were immediate, such as the closing of federal monuments and museums. Others have been unfurling in slow motion.
Trump administration officials scrambled to ease the effects of one disruption that could prove politically damaging. The IRS said Monday that it has changed past shutdown contingency plans so there won't be a delay in sending out tax refunds. Some furloughed workers could be recalled, though they may not get paid.
Airport security lines are growing as more unpaid TSA workers call in sick. Airline pilots unions have warned that the lack of oversight for critical safety equipment during the shutdown will also make flying riskier.
Cascading consequences II
The National Park Service, seeing deteriorating conditions at some of its most popular parks, authorized tapping entrance fees to pay for trash pickup and other operations that have halted — a move some critics said may be illegal.
HUD sent letters to 1,500 landlords Friday as part of a last-minute effort to prevent the eviction of thousands of tenants covered by a program that expired Jan. 1 and can't be renewed while shutdown continues, The Washington Post reported.
The 40 million Americans who rely on food stamps could start losing the benefits in February when current funding runs out.
A pox on the shutdown
A shortage of shingles vaccine on Long Island and elsewhere may be getting prolonged because the shutdown has sharply curtailed the operations of the Food and Drug Administration, Schumer said Monday.
Appearing at a Farmingdale pharmacy Monday Schumer called on the FDA to step in despite the shutdown. declare the situation an emergency, and intervene to see what it can do to get the manufacturer to increase supplies of Shingrix. Shingles, a painful skin ailment, is caused by the re-emergence of the chicken pox virus from infections during childhood.
"The government shutdown makes it a lot harder to deal with this shortage, because Long Island is totally in the dark knowing when the shingle shot will arrive because the FDA, 90 percent of it, is closed," he said. See Newsday's story by Keshia Clukey and Bart Jones.
What else is happening:
- Jimmy Carter has joined the other three living ex-presidents who won't stand up Trump's claim that predecessors privately told him they regret not building a border wall. "I have not discussed the border wall with President Trump, and do not support him on the issue,” Carter said.
- With the Trump administration only admitting a handful of asylum-seekers a day at border crossings, more migrants who wanted to take that route are turning instead to smugglers to sneak them in, The New York Times reports.
- Are terrorists pouring across the southern border? Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has thrown around a figure of 4,000 "known or suspected terrorists" stopped in fiscal 2018. Homeland Security gave NBC News a more precise number Monday: six.
- Trump is struggling to find a new Defense secretary following the departure of Jim Mattis at the end of 2018, Politico reports.
- With Democrats now in firm control of both houses of the New York State legislature, a bill to strip Trump's name from the Donald J. Trump State Park in the Hudson Valley may have a shot.