WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Sunday defended his latest bid for border wall funding and blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a partial government shutdown that is now on its 31st day, as a bipartisan group of governors warned that some states are close to running out of money to help the poorest Americans.
In a flurry of morning tweets, Trump rejected conservatives' complaints that his offer of temporary deportation protections for young immigrants amounts to amnesty and said that Pelosi and other Democrats "turned down my offer yesterday before I even got up to speak. They don't see crime & drugs, they only see 2020 -- which they are not going to win. Best economy! They should do the right thing for the Country & allow people to go back to work."
"She is so petrified of the 'lefties' in her party that she has lost control," Trump said of the House speaker.
Pelosi, of California, fired back at Trump on Twitter, urging him to "re-open the government, let workers get their paychecks and then we can discuss how we can come together to protect the border."
The back-and-forth is the latest sign that both sides remain far apart as the longest government shutdown in history continues. The dispute is affecting 800,000 federal employees who have gone without a paycheck. Some are resorting to food banks, charity and other employment.
As states scramble to mitigate the effects of the shutdown, the National Governors Association sent a letter to congressional leaders on Sunday, urging the Senate to immediately pass an extension of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the federal welfare program known as TANF.
The $16.5 billion block-grant program provides cash welfare benefits and other services for low-income families. At least one state is expected to exhaust its funding early next month, the association said, while the situation in other states varies "based on caseload and enrollment."
"It is untenable for states to administer effective TANF programs given the current uncertainty," Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, said in the letter.
On Saturday, Trump offered Democrats three years of deportation protections for some immigrants, including those who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in exchange for $5.7 billion in border wall funding.The proposal was immediately rejected by Democrats and derided by conservatives as amnesty.
Nonetheless, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said he will move ahead this week on Trump's proposal. He faces an uphill climb in breaking the Senate's 60-vote threshold to avoid a filibuster, with Democrats insisting that they will not negotiate on immigration until Trump reopens the government.
A McConnell aide, Don Stewart, said the Republican package would include seven appropriations bills that would fund government agencies that have been partially closed for a month, as well as billions of dollars in disaster relief.
"The legislation that the majority leader will bring to the floor this week would both reopen the remaining portions of the government, fund disaster relief, fund border security and address immigration issues that both Republicans and Democrats would like to address -- all in one bill," Stewart said.
The DACA program provides work permits to more than 700,000 young immigrants, known as "Dreamers," who were brought to or stayed in the country illegally as children. Trump's offer on Saturday also included a reprieve of his effort to end the temporary protected status program for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who fled their home countries after natural disasters and other emergencies.
Trump sought on Sunday to rebut conservatives' critiques of his latest proposal, maintaining in a tweet that "No, Amnesty is not a part of my offer."
"It is a 3 year extension of DACA," Trump said. "Amnesty will be used only on a much bigger deal, whether on immigration or something else. Likewise there will be no big push to remove the 11,000,000 plus people who are here illegally-but be careful Nancy!"
When asked about Trump's tweet, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said on ABC's This Week that he wasn't certain what the president meant.
"What I don't know is what the president's talking about there, to say amnesty really involves a much larger group," Lankford said. "That's a longer debate and obviously not something we can solve quickly."
On the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on Fox News Sunday, invoked the legacy of the slain civil-rights leader, noting that he "inspired us to change through the legislative process to become a more perfect union."
"That's exactly what President Trump is calling on the Congress to do," Pence said. "Come to the table in a spirit of good faith. We'll secure our border, we'll reopen the government, and we'll move our nation forward as the president said [Saturday] to even a broader discussion about immigration reform in the months ahead."
His comment drew immediate push-back from some Democrats, including Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who said in a tweet that Trump "is no MLK" and that the vice president owes an apology to the country and King's memory.
"To equate the legacy of one of America's finest statesmen and champions of civil rights with a vanity project built on racist ideology and hatred is beyond disgraceful," Speier said. Other Democrats on the Sunday morning news shows rallied behind Pelosi and dismissed Trump's proposal.
When asked by NBC's Chuck Todd whether Trump's offer signals progress, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said the government must reopen before any work on border security can commence.
"We cannot reward the kind of behavior of hostage-taking," Warner said on Meet the Press. "If the president can arbitrarily shut down the government, he will do it time and time again."
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who is pursuing a 2020 presidential bid, said on CNN's State of the Union that her counteroffer to Trump would be "what we put on the table a year ago and voted for, which was to protect all Dreamers."
James Clyburn, No. 3 House Democrat, offered a path for a deal focused on a permanent solution for immigrants brought the U.S. as children rather than the three-year reprieve offered by Trump.
"Let's go back and forth on this and see where we can find common ground," Clyburn, of South Carolina, said on Fox News Sunday.
Clyburn said Trump should first agree to open the government to give Congress several weeks to negotiate a deal that would include more money for a barrier on the U.S.' southern border. He noted that Democrats have already offered an additional $1 billion for border measures including upgrades at ports of entry. Clyburn said Trump now seems to be talking more about "barriers" instead of the wall, a shift Clyburn welcomed.
The Democratic proposal would provide $563 million for immigration judges and $524 million for upgrading ports of entry. That's up from $504 million for judges last year and $254 million for ports of entry.
Information for this article was contributed by Felicia Sonmez, David Nakamura, Paige Cunningham and Lisa Rein of The Washington Post; by Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times; and by Steven Dennis and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg News.
A Section on 01/21/2019
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