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Shutdown could delay TAX REFUNDS as IRS employees call out and Coast Guard go to food pantries

The partial government shutdown could delay Americans’ tax returns, as IRS workers facing financial hardship call out of work.

Some 30,000 employees of the federal tax-collecting organization have been ordered back to work, the Washington Post reported.

Still, some will not be showing up to continue working without pay in the second month of the partial government shutdown, because they are taking part in a coordinated protest or cannot afford to.

Coast Guard employees are also working without pay, and the military branch uniquely situated within the Department of Homeland Security says service members are relying on food pantry donations for meals.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that ‘certainly’ is not what the administration would like to as the the topic came up Wednesday during a conversation with reporters.

‘Nobody wants to see that happen,’ she said, ‘which is why the president put forward a proposal on Saturday that addresses that.’

Coast Guard employees are also working without pay, and the military branch uniquely situated within the Department of Homeland Security says service members are relying on food pantry donations for meals

Coast Guard employees are also working without pay, and the military branch uniquely situated within the Department of Homeland Security says service members are relying on food pantry donations for meals

The Senate will vote Thursday on two separate bills that would immediately end the government shutdown: one of which would fully fund President Donald Trump’s border wall and another that will fund the closed agencies through February 8.  

GOP leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced the votes on the floor.

But neither bill is seen as having a strong chance of passing, increasing the odds that the government shut down will continue into next week. 

The FBI Agents’ Association assessed Tuesday that the shutdown was affecting the bureau’s operations in a 72-page report. FBI agents are also working without pay.

‘Serving my country has always been a privilege, but it has never been so hard or thankless,’ one said  in the report.

And at a news conference, Tom O’Connor, head of the group, also suggested that the shutdown that is interfering with operations is ultimately making America less safe.

‘The failure to fund the FBI undermines essential FBI operations, such as those designated to combat crimes against children, drug and gang crime, and terrorism,’ he said. 

Sanders brushed off the claims on Wednesday. ‘I think the country’s less safe because we have a completely open border,’ she responded.

‘We do everything we can every single day this the president’s number one priority, is protecting the people of this country, and he’s focused on doing that,’ she said. 

That is why he put forward the proposal that the Senate is planning to take up on Thursday, she said. 

Trump’s proposal may not making it over a 60-vote hump in the Senate, however, and the White House has stayed mum on Senate Democrats’ intentions to bring forward the resolution reopening the government. 

Sanders told Fox News that she ‘certainly hopes’ that Trump’s plan will pass. 

It said in a formal statement of administration policy on Wednesday morning, the White House said that Trump would sign the bill as written, leaving wiggle room for him to reject it if the Senate tacks on provisions he doesn’t agree with.

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell announced  a plan to vote on bills to end the shutdown

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell announced  a plan to vote on bills to end the shutdown

He and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made a joint appearance on the Senate floor to announce Thursday's vote on a pair of competing bills

He and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer made a joint appearance on the Senate floor to announce Thursday’s vote on a pair of competing bills

The offer to hold votes on competing bills shows the pressure lawmakers are feeling the heat to reopen the federal government.  

As it stands, the Senate will vote at 2:30 p.m. Thursday on back-to-back measures: the first vote will be on Trump’s proposal that includes temporary protection to DACA recipients and gives him the $5.7 billion he needs to build his border wall. 

A second vote on House Democrats’ bill to temporarily re-open the government until February 8 to allow paychecks to go out while legislators negotiate a resolution on border security funding. It does not include the funding for the president’s wall.

Each leader praised their respective party’s plan in floor remarks.

‘To reject this proposal, Democrats would have to prioritize political combat with the president ahead of federal workers, ahead of DACA recipients, ahead of border security, and ahead of stable and predictable government funding. Is that really a price that Democrats want to pay to prolong this episode, which they say they want to be over and done with?’ McConnell said of the president’s proposal. 

Schumer said his party’s plan will allow the debate to continue ‘without hostage taking, without temper tantrum, without anything’ for two weeks of negotiations.

‘So if you’re looking for a way to open up the government, this is the way,’ Schumer said of the second vote on the Democratic proposal,’ he argued.

Both measures will need 60 votes to advance in the legislative process – an uphill battle that will be hard for the bills to beat.  

If Democrats withhold their support from the motion to proceed to Trump’s plan, which comes to the floor first, and Republicans do not lend their support to the second measure, the shutdown will continue with no conceivable way forward.

Trump outlined his plan to end the government shutdown in a Saturday address, offering congressional Democrats three years of legislative relief for 700,000 DACA recipients — including protection from deportation — and an extension of legal residence for people living in the country under ‘Temporary Protective Status’ designations.

DACA refers to the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offered a no-deportation guarantee to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants whose parents brought them into the U.S. as minors. 

TPS is a Justice Department program that grants residency and work permits to people from 10 countries affected by natural disasters or brutal armed conflicts. They include El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen.

When the measure was formally unveiled Monday night it also included several changes to asylum law that would make it more difficult for people to seek refuge from persecution in their home countries, though.

Democratic congressional leaders, who had already rejected the president’s offer, were outraged. Schumer called the changes to asylum law a ‘poison pen’ that will keep the bill that would fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year from being passed. 

One measure would fully fund President Trump's border wall 

One measure would fully fund President Trump’s border wall 

For 33 days, the partial government shutdown has put federal agencies on shoestring operations, as most federal workers in the Departments of Transportation, State, Justice and even the White House endure severe furloughs. 

Friday is pay day for federal workers whose agencies were funded through a separate agreement last year. For workers and shuttered departments, however, it will second pay cycle in which they are not paid.  

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday outside the White House that Congress must take the deal that Trump is offering to get the government back open.  

‘I feel terrible for workers,’ he said. ‘I don’t like shutdowns. I don’t think anyone ever wins a shutdown. People certainly lose the shutdown. And it begins with the men and women who are not getting paid. And that’s why it is so important that Speaker Pelosi take up the president’s offer to negotiate. And he’s made an opening bid, which I think is a very reasonable one.’

Rubio said that the way the process works in this republic, is that Democrats will have a chance on the floor to amend the bill detailing the president’s offer. And then it will go to the House, where Nancy Pelosi can make her own changes.

‘But this isn’t going to end, unless both sides are willing to compromise,’ he said. ‘But the speaker’s position seems to be that she demands he unconditional surrender of the president on every position involving the shutdown. 

He said, ‘That’s unreasonable. It’s illogical. It’s irrational. And this needs to end by both sides talking, and both sides willing to make compromises. The president’s taken the first step, and now it’s up to Speaker Pelosi to reciprocate.’ 

Fellow Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the former governor of the Sunshine State who just joined Congress, chimed in to blame Pelosi for the shutdown.

Taking a page out of the president’s book, he said, ‘We know we have to have secure borders, so why don’t we get something done. It’s Nancy Pelosi … She just wants a complete surrender. 

‘So the president’s made a proposal. We’re gonna get that passed on, hopefully getting that passed on Thursday. We can have a negotiation,’ he said. 

U.S. Coast Guard families receive free groceries during a food giveaway on January 19, 2019 in Novato, California, where 150 families who are currently not being paid

U.S. Coast Guard families receive free groceries during a food giveaway on January 19, 2019 in Novato, California, where 150 families who are currently not being paid

They received free groceries during an event organized by the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank

They received free groceries during an event organized by the San Francisco-Marin Food Bank

The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that's not receiving paychecks. That's because it's part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Pentagon

The Coast Guard is the only branch of the military that’s not receiving paychecks. That’s because it’s part of the Department of Homeland Security, not the Pentagon

The government shutdown has also complicated the president’s plans to give his State of the Union address on Jan. 29. Pelosi says he should wait until the shutdown is over. 

Trump said in a Sunday morning tweet that he is still considering his options. Sources told DailyMail.com that he could hold a rally in Texas, north of the border, next Tuesday, instead. 

Sanders has vaguely committed the president to moving forward with the address as planned. She didn’t reject the notion that he could rally outright in an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday morning.

Pelosi is telling her caucus not to invite family members to Washington for the speech, CNN reported on Wednesday, indicating a belief on her part that it may not happen. 

Scott said Tuesday after a meeting of the Florida delegation with Trump at the White House that ‘he needs to do it, he needs to do it at the House, there’s no reason in the world this shouldn’t happen – it’s part of the constitution.

‘It’s ridiculous that Nancy Pelosi is even talking about this,’ he said.

Rubio said that Trump should ‘absolutely’ give his address, as well, as it has been a constant for America ‘in times of war, in times of great crisis and in times of extraordinary division’ and he hopes that it will take place.

 

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