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Post shutdown, uncertainty hangs over Trump Davos trip
AFP 8 hours ago

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney also said US President Donald Trump will not travel to Florida as planned

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump’s participation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week could be thrown into question now that the federal government has partially shut down over budget wrangling, the White House said Saturday.
“We are taking Davos… on a day by day basis,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told journalists, without providing further details.
The Trump adviser also confirmed the president would not head south to Florida this weekend as initially planned.
The annual Davos meeting from January 23-26 brings together the world’s political and business leaders at a deluxe Swiss ski resort for discussions of key global issues.
The last US president to trek to Davos was Democrat Bill Clinton in 2000.


First day of government shutdown ends in standoff
By Richard Cowan and Ginger Gibson,Reuters 9 hours ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump and Republican lawmakers were locked in a standoff with Democrats on Saturday over the U.S. government shutdown, with Republicans saying they would not negotiate on immigration until the government is reopened.
Funding for federal agencies ran out at midnight with no agreement in Congress, meaning the second year of Trump’s presidency began without a fully functioning government.
Democrats stuck to demands that any short-term spending legislation must include protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.” Republicans in turn said they would not negotiate on immigration until Democrats gave them the votes needed to reopen the government.
U.S. government workers were told to stay home or, in some cases, work without pay until new funding is approved in the first federal government shutdown since a 16-day funding lapse in October 2013.
The Republican-controlled Senate and House of Representatives held rare weekend sessions on Saturday, facing a political crisis that could affect November congressional elections. By about 7 p.m. both chambers resigned themselves to failure and agreed to resume work on Sunday.
Both Republicans and Democrats had dug in during the day, each side blaming the other.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate would vote at 0100 EST (0600 GMT) Monday on a bill to fund the government through Feb. 8, unless Democrats agree to hold it sooner.
“We’ll be right back at this tomorrow and for as long as it takes” for Democrats to vote for legislation that would reopen the government, McConnell said.
Outside the U.S. Capitol, parks, open-air monuments and Smithsonian museums were open as a second annual women’s rights march took place on the National Mall. But visitors were turned away from the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York Harbor.
A scheduled trip by Trump and some Cabinet members to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, was being assessed on a day-to-day basis, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said.
Republicans said they would refuse to negotiate on immigration until Democrats provide the votes to re-open the government. Democrats insisted they have been willing to compromise but Republicans backed out of deals.
“The president will not negotiate on immigration reform until Democrats stop playing games and reopen the government,” said White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders.
Marc Short, the White House’s legislative affairs director, said Trump had been in contact with Republican leaders in Congress during the day, but had not reached out to Democrats.
Short said the president likely would be most effective making the case for ending the shutdown directly to the American people, and he did not rule out Trump addressing the nation in the coming days.
The tough message from the White House and Republicans in Congress led to speculation that Washington could be in for a prolonged political battle.
At the U.S. Capitol, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a stinging portrayal of Trump as an unreliable negotiating partner, saying the two sides came close to an agreement several times only to have Trump back out at the urging of anti-immigration conservatives.
“Negotiating with President Trump is like negotiating with Jell-O,” said Schumer, who met Trump at the White House on Friday for a 90-minute meeting that had briefly raised hopes. “It’s impossible to negotiate with a constantly moving target.”
The federal government had been running on three consecutive temporary funding bills since the new fiscal year began in October.
Democrats had sought to secure permanent legal protections for 700,000 young undocumented immigrants as a condition for new government funding after their attempts to push through the protections in stand-alone bills were rebuffed. Trump ordered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program to expire in March, requiring Congress to act.
Earlier, McConnell said a solution to the crisis was “just inches away” but he blamed Democrats for blocking legislation to pass the fourth stopgap funding measure.
One idea floated by Republicans was to renew government funding through Feb. 8 to end the shutdown, while working to resolve other issues, including immigration, military and non-military spending, disaster relief and some healthcare matters.
U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly, a Democrat whose northern Virginia district has one of the highest concentrations of federal government employees, said there was no sign that serious bipartisan negotiations were taking place and he would be surprised if Congress reached a resolution before Monday.
“You can hear the crickets chirping in the hallway,” Connolly said on Saturday evening. He said if there were negotiations, “it would have to be really deep back channels.”
He attributed the lack of talks to “raw feelings” and that Trump had walked away on Friday from a deal on immigration.
A video ad released on Saturday by Trump’s presidential campaign that says Democrats will be “complicit” in murders by illegal immigrants could inflame tensions.
Trump had portrayed himself as the ultimate dealmaker, but his inability to cut a deal despite having a Republican majority in both houses of Congress marked arguably the most debilitating setback for his administration.
“This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present,” he said on Twitter.
The immediate impact of the government shutdown was eased somewhat by it beginning on a weekend.
The Defense Department said combat operations in Afghanistan and other military activities would continue, while federal law enforcement officers also would remain on duty.
Talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement will continue, as will major cybersecurity functions, and most of the Environmental Protection Agency will remain open, budget director Mulvaney said.
But without a quick deal, hundreds of thousands of government employees will be put on temporary unpaid leave.
“It’s ironic that they get paid – meaning Congress – and the rest of the government doesn’t,” said Dawn Gaither, 57, a Washington teacher. “That’s what we need to do, kick these guys in the tail and get them to work.”
(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Ginger Gibson, James Oliphant, Ian Simpson, and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Bill Trott and Daniel Wallis)


Trump’s dealmaker image tarnished by U.S. government shutdown
By James Oliphant,Reuters 12 hours ago

We’re now a full year ― and more than 500 approval polls ― into Donald Trump’s presidency.
By James Oliphant
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – For President Donald Trump, this weekend was supposed to be a celebration.
On the first anniversary of his presidency on Saturday, with the stock market roaring and his poll ratings finally rising, he had planned to rest at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, feted by friends and admirers.
Instead, Trump stayed in Washington after he was unable to avert a government shutdown.
His failure to win passage by the U.S. Congress of a stopgap bill to maintain funding for the federal government further damaged his self-crafted image as a dealmaker who would repair the broken culture in Washington.
“This is the One Year Anniversary of my Presidency and the Democrats wanted to give me a nice present,” Trump said in an early morning tweet, adding the hashtag #DemocratShutdown.
Even as the White House began pointing the finger at Democrats, the Republican president came under fire.
“It’s almost like you were rooting for a shutdown,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said of Trump on Saturday.
Trump, who in July 2016 said: “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it,” has asserted that past government shutdowns were the fault of the person in the White House.
In a “Fox & Friends” interview after a 2013 shutdown, he said then-President Barack Obama was ultimately responsible.
“The problems start from the top and have to get solved from the top,” Trump said. “The president is the leader, and he’s got to get everybody in a room and he’s got to lead.”
As this new shutdown, the first since 2013, looked increasingly likely on Friday, Trump made a last-ditch effort to behave as the kind of problem-solver he has long claimed to be.
First, he postponed a long-planned weekend trip to his winter home Mar-a-Lago, where a lavish $100,000-a-couple fundraiser on Saturday would extol his first year in office.
He had little choice. Critics would have hammered him for attending such an event while government workers were being put on leave and many government services curtailed.
Then Trump called Schumer, and, after a positive conversation, invited him to a meeting at the White House. It was intimate – just the president, Schumer and top aides. Republican leaders were excluded. The idea was to find some common ground. It lasted 90 minutes.
One person familiar with the events said the two men agreed to seek a grand deal in which Democrats would win protections from deportation for some 700,000 young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers” and Trump would get more money for a border wall and tighter security to stem illegal immigration from Mexico.
By early evening, however, that plan was dead. The source said Trump had spoken in the meantime with conservative Republicans and been hit with their objections to the deal with Schumer.
Another source familiar with the meeting said White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Schumer later on Friday, after the meeting, and complained that the outline that Schumer and Trump had discussed was too liberal.
“He did not press his party to accept it,” Schumer said later.
On Saturday, with no resolution to the shutdown seemingly in sight, the White House fired back at Schumer, with Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, suggesting that the Democrat had misrepresented the details of the meeting and could no longer be trusted as a negotiator.
“You have to ask yourself at what point does it even become profitable to continue to work with somebody like that,” Mulvaney told reporters.
The confusion on Friday seemed part of a familiar pattern that has driven Democrats to distraction. Trump courts their support and suggests flexibility, only to pivot and side with more conservative lawmakers.
It happened in September, after he cut a short-term government funding deal with Schumer and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
Weeks later, when Schumer and Pelosi thought they had reached an agreement to preserve a program that protected Dreamers, congressional sources said Trump walked away.
That stand-off lasted until earlier this month, when Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin reached a bipartisan proposal on immigration.
They believed Trump had signaled he would support it. But in a heated Oval Office meeting, Trump savaged the deal.
A Democratic senator alleged that Trump said the United States needed to take fewer immigrants from Haiti and African nations, referring to them as “shit hole countries”. Trump denied using that language but the controversy poisoned negotiations.
Both sides felt betrayed, and Trump’s flip-flops left Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell mystified to the point where he said earlier this week that he could not figure out Trump’s position on the issue.
Trust was further undermined when Trump appeared to criticize a House stopgap funding bill that the White House hours earlier said he supported.
Members of each party blamed the other for the shutdown, but some of the blame landed on the president.
“Donald Trump is not capable of carrying out this kind of an intricate conversation about issues,” John Yarmuth, the senior Democrat on the House Budget Committee, told reporters.
“He doesn’t have the attention span to do it. He doesn’t have the interest to do it. All he wants to do is show he’s engaged in the process.”
(Reporting by James Oliphant, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, David Brunnstrom and Rich McKay; Editing by Janet Lawrence and Alistair Bell)

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