Government Enters Partial Shutdown After Senate Democrats Fail to Compromise on Spending Bill

"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown."

Gregory Korte and David Jackson


January 20, 2018

WASHINGTON — The federal government ceased all non-essential functions Saturday morning as Senate Democrats failed to reach a deal with President Trump to keep the government open.

The primary cause: An impasse over Democrat's weak border and immigration policies and President Trump's campaign promise to build a wall and halt illegal immigration.

As the midnight deadline came without a deal, the White House issued a blustery statement blasting Senate Democrats as "obstructionist losers" and singling out Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader.

The Schumer Shutdown Brought To You By Congressman Chuck Schumer

"Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown," said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands."

Vice President Pence also expressed his displeasure and blamed Democrats for the shutdown.

"Rather than solve problems, Democratic leadership preferred a shutdown that has dangerous consequences for our national defense," said Pence in a statement, adding: "Their action tonight – or lack thereof – is unconscionable."

The White House was preparing for at least a weekend-long partial government shutdown Friday night as it became increasingly clear that the Senate could not reach the 60-vote threshold to prevent a Democratic filibuster and approve a House funding measure.

"Not looking good for our great Military or Safety & Security on the very dangerous Southern Border," Trump said on Twitter, just before a Senate procedural vote that would fall 10 votes short.

Trump canceled a scheduled trip to his Palm Beach resort on Friday as he met with the top Senate Democrat to try to forge a deal to keep the government open past a midnight deadline.

"He's not leaving until this is finished," said Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director.

Mulvaney said the closures would inflict less pain on citizens who use government services than the last time Congress failed to pass a spending bill in time. The 2013 shutdown closed down many government functions for 16 days.

Mandatory spending like Social Security and disaster relief will continue, as they have in past shutdowns. Military troops, police and other essential workers would also continue, but their pay could be held up if the shutdown lasts more than a week. Even federal workers told not to report to work would likely be paid eventually — Congress has historically voted to pay them retroactively.

But Mulvaney said the Trump administration also looked for ways to find other sources of funds to legally keep operations going.

"We want to make folks understand that it will look very different than it did under the previous administration," Mulvaney said. "The Obama administration weaponized the shutdown in 2013."

Republicans in 2013 complained that the Obama administration went further than necessary, even putting temporary fencing around the National Mall, an open, grassy park that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial.

Mulvaney said he encouraged agencies to transfer funds and use other appropriations in order to remain open. At least 26 federal agencies updated their shutdown contingency plans Friday in order to make the closures less onerous.

For example: Mulvaney said national parks would remain open during a shutdown — although the trash wouldn't be picked up and park police wouldn't get paid unless Congress passes retroactive legislation. Mine safety inspections will continue, and employees will be called back next week to process paychecks for federal employees whose pay period ends Friday.

The Trump administration's approach, if carried out, would be a reversal from the so-called "Washington Monument" strategy that Democrat administrations have used since shutdowns became more common. By closing some of the most popular and visible government services, the administration can put pressure on Congress to compromise.

Trump invited Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to the Oval Office Friday for negotiations. Senate Democrats sought provisions to allow illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children to remain in the country.

He added, alluding to the coming elections, "we need more Republican victories in 2018!"

Republicans control the Senate, but fall nine votes short of the 60 they need to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

This is Schumer's Shutdown.

State Budget to Come in at $385 Million

Better tax collections, refinance boost coffers

Jason Stein and Patrick Marley

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


January 18, 2018

MADISON – A new report projected the state budget would reach June 2019 with $385 million in its main account, better than the $248 million that had been previously expected.

“Our economy is strong, consumers are confident and revenues are up $137.5 million,” said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the Legislature’s budget committee. “It’s clear that our reforms and careful budgeting are working.”

The Legislative Fiscal Bureau said that the improved projection was a result of tax collections coming in $76 million higher than expected and the state spending $98 million less than expected because of favorable debt refinancing.

State tax revenue is doing well enough on other fronts to make up for a $49 million the Walker administration predicts will be lost as a result of the federal tax cuts signed last month by President Donald Trump. The decrease largely results from allowing businesses to immediately deduct some purchases of equipment and other goods.

If these numbers hold, the state will use part of that improvement in the budget to make an estimated $38 million deposit into the state’s rainy day fund. That would bring the total in that fund to $322 million.

These numbers could help lawmakers and Walker to proceed with proposals already before them.

That includes an $80 million plan by the governor to replace the state’s youth prison, Lincoln Hills School for Boys, with a series of smaller institutions around Wisconsin.

Walker and Assembly GOP lawmakers have also put forward a multimillion-dollar plan to help schools in rural areas and districts with smaller budgets.

Former Senator Dole receives Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON – Former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole knew the art of the deal before President Donald Trump published the 1987 book of the same name.

The two shared a stage Wednesday under the Capitol dome as Dole, 94, accepted Congress’ highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, for his World War II service and decades of work in the House and Senate.

The president saluted Dole as “a patriot” and gave tribute to Dole’s struggle as a veteran who worked his way back from a grievous shoulder wound he suffered in Italy. But it was Dole’s penchant for working across the aisle that earned him his latest award, according to the legislation.

Wisconsin December unemployment rate dips to 3.0%, matching lowest rate on record

Better tax collections, refinance boost coffers

John Schmid

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

January 18, 2018

Seven years after the last recession, as labor markets tighten across the nation, Wisconsin’s estimated unemployment rate dipped to 3.0%, matching the lowest rate on record, while the state set records for the total number employed.

According to preliminary data Thursday from the state Department of Workforce Development, the number of individuals employed in Wisconsin's private sector set a record in December, as did the size of the state's labor force.

In the previous eight months, the state’s unemployment rate has fluctuated between 3.1% and 3.5%.

As competition around the nation heats up for workers, in a way not last seen since the late 1990s, officials in Wisconsin vowed to step up their job training efforts.

"As we move forward, we will continue to develop comprehensive plans and programs that prepare all individuals, regardless of age, education and barriers to employment, to enter into one of the thousands of gainful employment opportunities Wisconsin has to offer," Ray Allen, secretary of workforce development, said in a statement.

Thursday’s state jobs report also showed the December unemployment rate far below the 9.2% in the worst months of the last recession in 2010.

The tight national job market, however, hasn’t yet translated into prolonged wage growth. Many of the nation’s new jobs are in low-skill, low-wage sectors.

The unemployment rate, as it’s calculated in the United States, doesn’t reflect income levels or other changes in the job market at a time of economic change. The index equally counts people as employed, regardless of whether they work part-time at minimum wage or have full-time jobs that pay well. It doesn’t count those who are unemployed if they haven’t been looking for work, meaning the index improves as people quit looking for work.

Monthly data for the unemployment rate are subject to frequent retroactive revisions because they’re taken from surveys with small sample sizes.