Subscribe to Here’s the Deal, our politics newsletter for analysis you won’t find anywhere else.
Thank you. Please check your inbox to confirm.
President Trump plans to address the nation Tuesday on immigration and his plan for a wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, which he will visit this later week. Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor join Amna Nawaz to discuss the administration’s belief that the situation at the border constitutes a humanitarian and security crisis and how Americans are suffering due to the shutdown.
Seventeen days in, and neither side is budging yet in the showdown over the government shutdown.
But the president is making new moves to make his case.
Congressional correspondent Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.
At the White House, no public appearance by the President Trump today, but two significant public announcements. He will address the nation about border security tomorrow night and visit the U.S.-Mexico border on Thursday.
This after Vice President Pence led talks with Democratic staffers over the weekend, but made no progress toward ending the shutdown.
White House Communications Director Mercedes Schlapp today blamed Democrats.
The Democrats themselves have said the importance of securing the border. I heard Nancy Pelosi. I heard Chuck Schumer. They said it. They said, yes, we agree we need to secure the border. They have yet to provide the definition of border security.
Mr. Trump's definition remains more than $5 billion dollars for a border barrier. He indicated on Sunday that he'd be flexible on the wall or fence design.
It'll be made out of steel. It'll be less obtrusive, and it'll be stronger.
The president says he still could declare a national emergency to build his wall. But at the border today, House Democrats rejected the idea that the president could act on a barrier without approval from Congress. Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro:
Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas:
He can expect a strong and swift challenge from all of us and other members of Congress and from the American people.
In a letter last night, the White House outlined its latest demands for the border, $5.7 billion for construction of a steel barrier, $800 million for urgent humanitarian needs, $563 million for 75 new federal immigration judges, and $4.2 billion for tens of thousands of new beds in detention facilities.
Democrats say funding for a wall in any form remains a nonstarter.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke today in New York.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.:
If every time President Trump throws a tantrum and demands he get his way unless the government will be shut down, it will create disaster. It will encourage his worst instincts, which are bad enough now.
Meanwhile, many federal buildings remain closed, and the shutdown effects continue to spread. The Department of the Interior has announced that it is shifting money to keep some national parks open and collect trash and human waste.
And some 800,000 federal employees are entering a third week of being furloughed or working without pay. This has led to longer security lines at airports, as some employees with the Transportation Safety Administration call out sick, rather than work without pay.
And Lisa is here with me, along with our White House correspondent, Yamiche Alcindor.
Lisa — sorry.
Rather, Yamiche, let me start with you.
The president's never been shy about publicly making his case for why this wall or barrier is necessary, but you were invited to a very private briefing today at the White House with some other reporters. Vice President Pence was there, Homeland Security Nielsen. What was their message?
Their message is that this White House believes there is a humanitarian and a national security crisis at the southern border and as a result the government cannot be open because of that.
The president wants this wall, he says, because it really needs to keep out drug traffickers, human traffickers. Secretary Nielsen, I pushed her on some of the numbers that the White House has been using, because they have were handing out charts, a whole stack of papers, really making the case that there's numbers behind the argument that they're making.
And Secretary Nielsen says, look, there are terrorists crossing the border, there are terrorists operating in that region. However, she wouldn't say exactly how many terrorists were stopped at the actual physical border.
Our reporting is that most terrorists that are being stopped are being stopped at airports. And most of the drugs that are being smuggled in are being smuggled in through cars in legal ports of entry.
So what we have is Democrats and Republicans really not — not really agreeing on the facts here. Add to that that Vice President Pence over and over again said the Democrats are not willing to negotiate with the White House. They're saying that senior staff is negotiating with them. But lawmakers were not in the room over the weekend.
So, Lisa, over to you.
Congress isn't in session until tomorrow. But what do congressional Democrats say to that?
They say that these staff talks over the weekend were just, that they never expected it to be at a higher level. And they say that one of their problems here is they don't think Vice President Pence can do the negotiating, because they say he made an offer a couple of weeks ago that the White House rescinded just hours after the vice president made that offer.
They say only President Trump is the one that they can negotiate with. And even he, they say, changes positions, as we saw in this tape. Now they're adding and bringing up more funding request for more items. So Democrats say they're still confused over what the president wants. As for what they're going to do, Democrats starting tomorrow and all this week in the House will pass separate appropriations bills to open up most of the agencies that are closed one by one.
That will give the Senate those options and the president those options, but, right now, Republican say they're not interested.
So, Yamiche, the president and members of his team have continued to say it's a crisis, there's a national security interest here, despite the fact that neither of those claims are supported by actual evidence yet that we have seen.
Is this where they're digging in? Will we continue to just hear this message?
You will continue to hear this message, and they're going to continue to dig in.
Today, Vice President Pence was asked a question about whether or not he was being undermined by the president. And he said, everything that we have offered, everything that the White House has floated has been directly approved by the president.
He also added to the fact that this is not about politics. He said, the president isn't thinking about the politics. He said that I hate the word base. He said, instead, that the president is only thinking about the American people.
However, the president's having a 9:00 p.m. address tomorrow. Some people are seeing that as political because it's going to be a prime-time address. The other thing that they're thinking is that the wall is a political symbol.
Yamiche, Lisa, hang with me for just a second.
We do want to take a bit of a turn now and continue with our daily look at the impact of that shutdown, now in its 17th day.
Guys, you have been hearing stories from folks across the country.
Yamiche, there are folks out there making some very tough choices right now.
There are folks making tough choices out there.
And one of the people that's making tough choices is Lisa Jackson. She is someone who's living in Louisiana. I want to hear what she has to say. She's a federal worker.
I'm a single parent, so I have one income, and I have to pay all the bills. I have had to postpone a surgery that was scheduled for next week. I was holding off until after the holidays to do it, but now, being furloughed, I'm worried that my $300-plus-cost for the surgery will be money that I would need later this month.
I also am taking graduate classes. I'm trying to wait another week or so before making a decision on my spring classes. If we don't go back to work soon, I'm going to have to drop out of those classes because I won't be able to afford the tuition and fees. I pay those out of pocket.
And, again, I'm sorry, that was Sarah Jackson in Louisiana.
And the president is saying that the people that are impacted, including federal workers, are behind him. He said that he's trying to have the Office of Budget and Management mitigate these impacts on real people.
But he also says at the end of the day his primary concern is what he sees as a crisis on the southern border.
Lisa, so far, we're seeing it's not just the impact on individual federal workers like Sarah Jackson there, right? It goes to their families too.
This is a widespread impact. And our team put out a big call out, anyone affected. And so we heard not just from workers directly, but from family members.
I wanted to play a video by a man named Sam Shirazi. He lives here in the D.C. area. He is a federal worker, but he's also affected by his child day care. And here's what he has to say.
I'm a furloughed federal employee. But it's not just me that's been affected by the shutdown. My daughter's day care is closed because it's located inside a federal building.
We still have to pay the day care bills because the day care workers are not federal employees. And so they wouldn't get back pay. I don't mind paying for their salaries, because they deserve to get paid during the shutdown. But it is frustrating that my daughter won't be able to go to day care and play with her friends and learn.
Now, what's interesting here is, he will miss a paycheck on Friday, if there is no resolution of the shutdown tomorrow. And that is the case for most of the federal workers.
One more thing. The people who control the payroll for many of these agencies, Amna, the work for the Department of Commerce, and they themselves are not getting paid. But they will be putting out the payroll for anyone who does get paid.
So we're seeing individuals impacted, families impacted. Is there a wider ripple effect of any kind?
There is. There are many economic effects.
And we're going to focus on just one here. There is a small business owned by a woman named Chelsea Bunch. And she says she is trying to get her business to be an LLC. To do that, you need the IRS to give you an identification number. She sent us a video about the problem she's having because the IRS is in a shutdown.
Can't get a bank account. We can't get deposits into a bank account. We're operating entirely in cash. So we had to do payroll on Friday in cash. We're probably going to end up doing it again this Friday in cash if the government doesn't open up again.
It's just incredibly convenient to run a construction company in cash.
So she's doing home remodeling in Tampa. She can't get what's called an EIN, an employer identification number, from the IRS because it's shut down.
Now, late today, the White House announced that the president is ordering the IRS to put out refunds. We have asked if that will also include things like this employer identification number. It's really not clear how this is going to work or if it will.
Not clear at all how it's going to play out, impact already being seen across the country.
Lisa Desjardins, Yamiche Alcindor, good to talk to you both.
Watch the Full Episode
Support Provided By:
Additional Support Provided By: