Day 31: What’s been happening?
It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when most of the federal government’s operations would have been closed anyway. But this year’s holiday marks a milestone in the shutdown as hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain furloughed: It’s been one month since the government was last fully open.
As a bone-chilling flash freeze hovered over the Midwest and Northeast on Monday, many forecasters at the National Weather Service were working without pay. Veterans in emergency management are worried about longer-term trouble, too. President Trump made a brief stop on Monday at the memorial to Dr. King in Washington.
[Sign up for the Morning Briefing newsletter for a look at what you need to know to begin your day.]
Both sides made offers but no negotiations
On Saturday, Mr. Trump proposed to end the partial government shutdown after Democrats extended a proposal of their own on Friday, having added $ 1 billion in border spending to their offer. If he got $ 5.7 billion for a border wall, Mr. Trump said, he would restore for three years the protections known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, and Temporary Protected Status, or T.P.S.
Republicans had hoped his plan would put Democrats in a corner, but Democrats called it a nonstarter, prompting attacks from the president on the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi. And her relationship with her counterpart in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who presumably would need to make a deal with her, is fraught. Immigrants in Texas are skeptical of the president’s proposal.
While Mr. Trump has projected confidence in public, he has expressed private frustration over what he views as negative coverage. Many Republicans concede, also in private, that he has made strategic errors and allowed dysfunction to continue.
Last week things got personal, too: Ms. Pelosi threatened to cancel the president’s State of the Union address; Mr. Trump retaliated by denying her military transport to Afghanistan. And then she accused the Trump administration of leaking her plans to fly commercial, prompting her to postpone the trip, citing security concerns.
How long will Republican lawmakers continue to back him? While support for the wall among Republican voters appears to have hardened, broadly the border wall remains unpopular.
Federal workers are feeling the pressure
When it began, the shutdown left about 800,000 federal workers without pay, with just over half continuing to work, including members of the Coast Guard and food safety inspectors. The number of people working has grown as the Trump administration reinterprets longstanding rules, often to the benefit of the president’s base.
Many federal workers have filed for unemployment benefits. In Washington, local programs have sprouted up to support the city’s large, struggling federal work force. Nationally, an informal network of businesses has also mobilized to ease the pain.
But such stories underscore an irony of the shutdown: Federal jobs have long been seen as being among the most stable, even though now they are anything but.
Federal courts, which have been open and operating despite the shutdown, could be close to running out of money. Some courts have delayed civil cases, and court-appointed lawyers have not been paid at all.
The rippling effects on the economy
The White House admitted recently that the shutdown has had a far greater toll on the United States economy than previously thought.
Americans are confident in their own finances, but have become increasingly concerned about the economy overall during the shutdown, according to a recent poll conducted for The New York Times by the online research firm SurveyMonkey.
Low-income Americans whose leases are subsidized by the government are worried about their rent because the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is closed, cannot make payments to landlords.
Legions of contractors are out of work and, unlike federal employees working without pay, they have no expectation of recovering the missed wages.
For American farmers, the shutdown has compounded concerns about Mr. Trump’s trade war with China. To ease their pain, the president created a $ 12 billion bailout fund, but that is frozen because of the shutdown. On Wednesday, the Agriculture Department said that it would temporarily call back about 2,500 workers to help farmers and ranchers with existing loans and to provide them with necessary tax documents.
The shutdown has had cascading effects, too. Craft beer brewers, for example, can’t get approval for new equipment or for labels on new lines of beer until their Treasury Department regulators return to work. And young people across the country have been affected in various ways, from having to worry with their parents over lost jobs and wages to being unable to pay tuition or file financial aid forms.