“Hundreds of Internal Revenue Service employees have received permission to skip work during the partial government shutdown due to financial hardship, and union leaders said Tuesday that they expected absences to surge as part of a coordinated protest that could hamper the government’s ability to process taxpayer refunds on time,” the Washington Post reports.
“The Trump administration last week ordered at least 30,000 IRS workers back to their offices, where they have been working to process refunds without pay… But IRS employees across the country — some in coordinated protest, others out of financial necessity — won’t be clocking in.”
“We get that this is unfair to you, but this is so much bigger than any one person. It is a little bit of pain, but it’s going to be for the future of our country and their children and their grandchildren and generations after that will thank them for their sacrifice right now.”
— Lara Trump, quoted by Newsweek, on the furloughed federal employees due to the government shutdown….
There’s a flurry of movement to end the shutdown on both sides of the Capitol, but no signs that either President Donald Trump or GOP and Democratic leaders are budging enough to end the standstill now on its 32nd day.
A group of centrist House Democrats, sick of political posturing, is pressing Speaker Nancy Pelosi to counter Trump’s immigration proposal with her own potential compromise. The group, led by freshman Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia, is asking the California Democrat to offer Trump a vote on his border wall or some sort of negotiated security package in February if he first signs a bill reopening the federal government, according to a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) forged a deal to allow votes on the president’s proposal, which would provide $5.7 billion for his wall and temporary protections for some undocumented immigrants, as well as a stopgap bill pushed by Democrats to fund the government until mid-February. But those plans would require 60 votes in the narrowly divided Senate, and each seems unlikely to pass. The Senate passed such a stopgap bill in December, but that was before Trump came out in opposition. Now the president would almost certainlyneed to endorse such a measure for it to get 60 votes.
Taken together, the moves demonstrate a renewed sense of urgency to get out of the impasse as a second missed paycheck for about 800,000 federal workers looms later this week. But neither side has moved off the central point separating them…
Many of the 800,000 federal government employees forced to go on unpaid leave or work without wages are running up credit card debt, taking out loans and even flocking to pawn shops. Others are rushing to find temporary work or tapping family and friends.
In the first weeks after the shutdown, banks got “a couple dozen calls” from people seeking relief from payments, said Nick Simpson, a spokesperson for the Consumer Bankers Association, which represents the nation’s retail lenders. Now, he says, the cries for help have picked up tenfold.
“Our banks fully expect the call volume to increase” as Feb. 1 – when mortgage payments and loans come due – approaches, said Simpson.
With the partial government shutdown approaching the five-week mark, thousands of furloughed workers are facing the prospect of suffering lasting damage to their finances. As they turn to installment loans, car title loans and payday cash advances, which charge exorbitantly high interest, some are making payments late, risking hits to their credit scores that could last for years. Others are starting to drain their retirement savings.
If the shutdown isn’t over by mid-February, DC Superior Court clerk Marie Smith said, she’ll have to get a part-time job.
“Members of Congress still getting paid – to me that’s not honorable,” Smith said while waiting in line in mid-20-degree weather Tuesday for a free meal at a Washington food bank for federal employees….
President Donald Trump will deliver a State of the Union address next week, but it is unclear where it will take place.
The White House confirmed to reporters Tuesday that the administration had sent a letter to the sergeant at arms of the House of Representatives to request access to the House chamber for security planning for the event.
It is unclear whether Speaker Nancy Pelosi will order the House Sergeant to deny them access….
The commandant of the US Coast Guard on Tuesday called it “unacceptable” that members of the military branch have had to turn to food pantries and donations during the ongoing government shutdown.
Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz said in a video message posted to Twitter members of the Coast Guard “should not be expected to shoulder” the burden of the shutdown, which has resulted in members missing paychecks.
Schultz also said he is “heartened” by an “outpouring of support from local communities across the nation.”…
President Trump and congressional Republicans are trying to change the narrative on Democrats as the partial shutdown drags into its fifth week.
Republicans, who have seen poll after poll showing that a majority of respondents blame Trump for the shutdown, are eager to corner Democrats by forcing a vote on the White House proposal to reopen the government and provide Trump with $5.7 billion in wall funding.
Whether the gambit works is anyone’s guess.
Senate Democrats are showing no signs of division so far, and the Senate is also poised to vote Thursday on another measure that would temporarily reopen the government but not provide funding for the wall….
U.S. federal courts can operate through Jan. 31 despite a partial government shutdown, but warned they will not have funds to operate as normal beyond Feb. 1, officials said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which oversees operations for the federal district and appeals courts, revised its estimate as to when it will exhaust available funds from Jan. 25 to Jan. 31 after using a “strategy of deferring non-critical operating costs and utilizing court filing fees and other available balances.”…